Kanjeevaram Sarees – An Attire for Indian classical Dance Bharatanatyam


Bharatanatyam is a traditional dance form instigated in Tamil Nadu, South India. It is considered to be a ‘fire dance’. This is a vibrant, earthly and incredibly apparent dance style. Its distinguishing features are diversity of motions with emphasis on foot stamping, jumps and turns. This dance form is one of the most ancient dance forms and is said to be almost 2000 years old and has very interesting history. This dance style is known for its grace, elegance, expressions, story-telling, characters, purity and beautiful dance steps and poses. 

The name Bharatnatyam itself express the entire meaning of what this dance form is Classic Blue about.“Bha” stands for ‘bhava’ which means expression, “Ra”stands for ‘Rag’ meaning music, “Ta” stands for ‘Tal’ meaning rhythm and “Natyam” means dance. It is one of the most popular and extensively executed dance style accomplished by female as well as male dancers.
Bharatnatyam was traditionally presented by Devdasis. Devdasis(‘Dev’ = God and ‘Dasi’ = servant) are dancers who dance in the temple and are devoted to god. They had their whole life dedicated in service to god and use to worship him through their dance. During medieval times, the devadasis used to wear a special, heavy saree usually Kanjeevaram that severely restricted the dance movements. There are several varieties of Bharatanatyam costumes, some of which do not restrict the dancer’s movements, while the others do.

danceThe Bharatanatyam dance costumes for women are crafted from elaborately woven sarees like Kanjeevaram or Dharmavaram, and stitched in several alluring styles. Usually three types of material are widely used in its costumes. Pure Kanjeevaram silk sarees, Dharmavaram sarees and China silk. Polycot varieties are also used. Out of these, Kanjeevaram sarees are the most popular one as they are most attractive and strongest among them.

Untitled6Kanchipuram is the town famous for its magnificent silk saris Kanjeevaram, with a traditional adornment embroidered with golden thread along the edges. For stage performances distinct colours are preferable so that the colour of the ornamentation could stand out against the backdrop of a saree. Mustard-yellow, green and red colours are usually associated with Bharatanatyam dance. In Kanjeevaram sarees temple motifs, peacocks, butties, checks etc. are used to enhance the beauty of these sarees. Ckecks made with gold zari are inimitable to Kanjeevaram sarees which are enthused by the dance costumes of Bhartanatyam.
A saree is worn in diverse ways; its length is as a rule a little below calves. Costumes imitating dance3saree are in fashion now. Thanks to the costume a dancer looks neat and gets rid of the necessity to wind six yards of thick material around her.

dance2The three-pleated dance costume was in vogue for a long time. At present the V-shaped fan is very popular. This is called Ramastyle, after the name of the artist. Usually, a new design is identified with the artist who wears it for the first time.


Author: Jyoti Bhasin Chaudhry
Ph.D. Research Scholar, Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan, India

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