Koorai Nadu sarees were nine yard sarees when it was started weaving 150 years back. Koorai Nadu also commonly known as Kornad located in Mayiladuthurai, is a town in Nagapattinam District of Tamil Nadu, South India. Koorai Nadu was part of Chola Nadu. Cotton- rich clothes were produced and there was much demand for these Koorai Sarees. Only Raja (King Dynasty) and its close Family Members could afford to wear Silk and Silk Products, as it was very costly. So, for a normal lay woman, to dress up to her marriage, maroon and yellow check cotton sarees were manufactured. Later on, these sarees were exported to Mysore, as weavers couldn’t afford to buy silk at that time. Because of this, they started borrowing silk from Mysore and it was sold back in the same place and hence they were called as “Mysore Ragam” (Mysore Sarees). Though the sari is woven in Koorai Nadu, the name was changed to “Mysore Sari” and sold in Mysore. Most commonly, natural dyes were used and the colours were Arakku (Maroon) and Manjal (Yellow) only. The distinctive feature of old Koorai Nadu Saree is the Double–Side-Pallu which had contrast colour as that of the body. Maroon was the only colour used in Pallu. Coarser Yarns like 20s-Cotton were very commonly used. Way back in 1945 there were 2000 Looms, but now, just 5 looms left. This Koorai Sari did not exist after 1999, as there was drastic deterioration in the wages for the weavers and hence the weavers had shifted their profession to different fields. Below mentioned the current scenario and the whole process of making of Koorai Nadu sari.
Cotton and Raw Silk Yarns are procured from nearby Government Society. Since the Silk Yarn is raw, the process of degumming is done and then dyed. Once the yarn is ready, weft is prepared by winding the yarns on pirn and simultaneously warp beam is prepared. Warp and weft consist of 75% of Silk Yarn and 25% of Cotton Yarn.
The arrangement of Warp Yarns on the beam according to the sari design is done. The checks on the saree are formed by having simple calculation by the weaver in his mind. Both Cotton and Silk Yarns are wound together in a warp beam, at first. Then, after setting the warp beam on the loom, the cotton threads are separated and wound separately on bobbins. This is done due to the reason that if suppose yarn breaks while weaving, the weaver can easily find the yarn and can fix it.
Knotting is a process of joining the ends of previous woven saree to the ends of new saree to be woven. This is done to start weaving of a new sari and also to feed on the heald eye easily. This takes a minimum period of 2 hours. Heald frames are made out of bamboo stick and wires made out of threads.
For manufacturing/preparing one sari, the weaver should move his hand and feet – almost 13000 times. The loom used is ordinary frame loom. According to the check pattern, the weft is inserted perpendicular to warp.
Once the sari is woven, a gap of 2 inches is left without weft insertion. Again, weft is inserted for 1 inch after the 2 inches gap. Now, a rod is inserted along the weft direction and the finished sari is cut neatly in the 2 inches gap and taken out. Now the ends of the sari are knotted which gives a tassel look. For stiffness during weaving of the sari, water is used.
Koorai Nadu Saree weighs 450gms to 500gms. However, since the count of cotton was 20s and 40s and the silk also had coarser count in the early period, the sari had weighed 750 gms. The length is 5.5 meters (Gajam) now whereas in those days, it was 6.4 meters to 7 meters.
Most prominent colours used were maroon, yellow, red and green. Now, the colours have been changed according to today’s trend.
Weaving of Cotton and Silk together is not an easy task. In view of this, majority of the weavers shifted to silk weaving. Natural dyes were done in the backyard (kollappuram) of the house itself and each house had 15 to 20 looms in those days. But, now acid dyes are used. Co-optex has taken necessary initiatives and trained few weavers on this saree weaving. These designs are made in such a way that it is not only used for Mangalsutra Pattu Pudavai, but also used as daily wear sari by young women. Before it was manufactured only with two colours namely – Manjal [Yellow] and Arakku [Maroon] and now multi-colours are being used. Silk Saris have to be dry washed and it cannot be worn as casual wear, whereas this sari can be hand washed and used for casual wear as well.