It was Onam sadhya and I was invited to a friend’s place…So I put my best foot forward and tried to dress like a true Keralite (but with my own twist ).
Few things other than the awesome food platter which caught my attention…
One was the extravagant flower decoration and women clad is white and golden saree…The famous “Kasavu” or what they call “Mundum Neriyathum” or “Settu-Mundu”…
Kasavu is a handwoven cream colored saree with gold border, worn by Malayalee women. From the land of ‘God’s own country’, Kerala’s Kasavu emerges as one of the finest traditional saris which define the essence of the beauty of every woman in Kerala.
Mohini Attam a traditional dance from of Kerala is incomplete without Kasavu.
The original essence of this fabric felt a noticeable presence depicted through the remarkable sketches of
Painter Raja Ravi Verma. The design of this fabric also found its popularity in the mythological epic Mahabharata which portrayed Shakuntala in many Kerala Kasavu attires.
Kerala Kasavu traces itself way back to the Buddhist era.The Mundu is referred to as ‘Antariya’ in the Buddhist context and the Neriyathu (the cloth covering the upper part of the body) is referred to as ‘Uttariya’ in the ancient Buddhist-Jain texts.Gradually it’s essence spread to Southern part of India and become richly prominent in Kerala.
The tradition of golden colored borders (Kasavu) along the Mundum Neriyathum might have been influenced by the Graeco-Roman “Palla” or Palmyrene.
The Malabar coast had flourishing overseas trade with the Mediterranean world since antiquity.The invade of Vasco da gama, unaware of the success of the handwoven industry in the future bartered gold in return of the spices.The amount of gold dumped on the shores of Kerala was cleverly utilized by the upper class to be woven on the Mundu and the Neriyadu which is today popularly known as Kasavu.
The basic attire of Kerala Kasavu is basically categorized into two pieces of garments;
one is the ‘kara’ which represents the colored bit of a design that is imprinted in the border and the second
which is the ‘Mundu’ that defines the lower portion of the garment.
The attire also consists of the upper garment which is known as the ‘Neriyathu’.
You can see that local people tends to wear cloths with color contrasting to the landscape of that region.
For example, the traditional colorful Rajasthani clothing match with desert landscape of Rajasthan;
or radiant traditional dress of Kashmiri women contrasting with the whitish landscape of Kashmir.
Likewise, the off-white colored Mundum Neriyathum contrast well with vivid landscape of Kerala.
Did you know that a Kerala sari has exactly 4500 threads?
“The weavers count these threads each time, as otherwise the length and breadth of the saris will differ.
What makes Kerala saree so special ?
Pure Hand loom
Best for Kerala’s tropical climate
Natural colors made out of rice and tapioca are used
Looks identical on both sides
Traditional gold jewelry or copper jewelry.add to the aesthetic of the occasion as well as Kasavu.
As a nation of rich culture it is always wise to preserve this culture through supporting our artisans rather
than forcing them to abandon such artistic crafts in search of a better future.
Wear More Handloom…
For one, Indian handlooms are breathtakingly beautiful; and two, you’ll be helping our weavers…
Do you really need another reason???
Hi! I am Anushree Dash…
1 Part Entrepreneur
2 Parts Writer
3 Parts Social reformer
4 Parts explorer
5 Parts photographer, Too many Parts.
A free-spirited,non-conformist,,impenitent,independent,adventurous,boho soul and an admirer of life. Loves my Indian roots, Culture, Aesthetic Living, Saree, Poetry …