Sarees are a quintessential India attire out of which Chanderi is very popular and favored among saree fanatics. They are highly sophisticated and the main significance of these sarees are the light weight, sheer texture, pastel hues and intricate buttas. The lusture and sheen that the chanderi fabric has attracts one’s attention. They are popularly referred to as “woven air” due to the delicate feel and translucent appearance of the fabric.

Traditional Chanderi saree

Overview & History

The name of the fabric is derived from the place from where it originates. Chanderi is a small town popularly known for its looms, situated in the Ashoknagar district of Madhya Pradesh. The history of the Chanderi fabrics can be dated back to the 13th or 14th Century, a time when the artisans weaved this fabric for the royals.When we look into the history of Chanderi fabrics, we come across various stories, but it is said that, initially a majority of the Chanderi weaves belonged to the muslim community.There are also records that Keshti weavers in 1350 , migrated from Jhansi and settled in Chanderi only to make the fabric more illustrious.The Mughal period witnessed the golden period in Chanderi weaving. It is said that once, woven Chanderi fabric was sent to Emperor Akbar in the hollow of a small bamboo.

Chanderi- The handloom city in Madhya Pradesh

The Maharani of Baroda patronized the Chanderi weave. Some stories say that she was able to identify the finesse of the fabric simply by rubbing it on her cheeks, and paid the weaver accordingly.Fine quality luxurious Chanderi turbans were woven exclusively for the Maratha rulers.

On the other hand, Mythological references can also be found which says that the first Chanderi fabric was found and introduced by Lord Krishna’s cousin Sishishupala.

However, even today Chanderi fabrics and sarees are embraced by women and are very much in demand. Lets look at the varieties and process by which they are crafted.

Types of Chanderi & the designs used

Chanderi fabrics can be classified into three major categories- Pure cotton Chanderi, Silk Chanderi and Silk cotton Chanderi.

Initially, nature inspired motifs like, flowers. birds, animals, fruits and even celestial figures were woven.These buttas were woven using handlooms. Nowadays, geometric patterns and motifs like ‘Jangla’ ‘Dandidar’ ‘Chatai’ and ‘ Mehendi wale haath’ etc are used to beautify the Chanderi sarees. They are mainly characterized by pastel hues.With evolving trends, designers are nowadays experimenting with more solid colours and vibrant combinations.

Elements of nature woven in the pallu

Process of weaving a Chanderi saree

The fabrics is made up of ‘tana’ , which is the warp or the lengthwise stretched out set of threads, through which the ‘bana’ or the weft is woven.Threads are woven back and forth.Initially handlooms were used in the weaving process, which requires two weavers to complete one saree and the buttas were all completely handwoven using needles. It may take upto ten or more days for completing a saree depending on the intricacy of the design.But with the introduction of Fly Shuttle looms, the process has become more faster and easier, and one weaver can weave a saree. There are approximated 3600 active looms in Chanderi, and women also actively engage in the weaving process. Chanderi sarees are one of the ingenious handlooms of India, and is a community-driven program.Till the 1920s, only white coloured Chanderi sarees were woven, which used natural dyes like saffron to give it a golden hue and flower extracts were used as natural dyes.Nowadays, artificial chemical dyes are used.

Lady involved in the weaving process

Exquisite features of the Chanderi saree

Due to the lightness and finesse, Chanderi sarees are referred to as woven air. The glossy texture and translucent nature of the sarees set them apart from the other weaves. This is owing to the extra fine high quality yarns used. The yarns used in the production of chanderi sarees do not undergo the degumming process. These are some of the features that make Chanderi an outstanding fabric.

Present day scenario

In the recent years, handloom revival is taking the Indian fashion industry by storm. Top notch Indian designers like Sanjay Garg and Rahul Mishra have resorted to Chanderi fabrics to design and experiment with ethnic and contemporary silhouettes. Designers like Anita Dongre and Anushree Reddy also work extensively with this fabric to craft breathtakingly beautiful designs. Chanderi fabrics are extremely versatile and not just restricted to sarees but also other wardrobe staples like salwar suits, skirts, jackets and tops.

model draped in a stunning black Chanderi saree by designer Rahul Mishra

Our top Bollywood fashion divas like Anushka Sharma, Vidya Balan and Sridevi have been spotted at various occasions flaunting elegant Chanderi drapes. This age old classic weave is now becoming a hot trend.

Actress Anushka Sharma in a fine green chanderi saree


The uniqueness and light weight of the chanderi sarees make it a very sophisticated yet comfortable attire to drape for parties, weddings, festivals and also religious ceremonies. They can be complimented by traditional gold jewelry.


The delicate fabric needs to be handled with utmost care. Dry cleaning or gentle hand wash using mild detergent is advisable. Do not dry in direct sunlight.


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