Textile Experience

Chennai has long been reputed for its amazing heritage as a textile hub from the ancient of days. In 1637, Francis Da, an agent from British East India Company, negotiated with locals and set up the base for trade. Nearby villages began to specialise in hand weaving, spinning, dyeing and textile printing on a large and steadily growing scale. Chennai has transformed from a historical trading city owing to the presence of the country’s third oldest port to a major textile hub of South India. 

Chennai is a major repository of the wealth of Tamil Nadu’s centuries-long textile traditions and heritage. It has long been a recipient of the output of the four major textile towns of Coimbatore, Tirupur, Salem and Erode of Tamil Nadu. Coimbatore is a cotton town. Tirupur too is major cotton market. Erode and Salem are famed for their handlooms. Silk comes from Kancheepuram, while organic cotton is sourced from places like Pollachi, Negamam and Vadambacher. From the villages around Madurai we get the sungudi fabric, and from the town of Anakaputhur, about 20 km from Chennai, arrive sarees using as many as 25 diverse natural fibres in the making.

  • Turning over the pages of the rich narratives of Tamil Nadu’s amazing heritage of weaving, hand block printing, and hand painting with vegetable dyes
  • Opportunities to interact with the weavers backed by detailed explanations shared by an expert of the time-honoured processes of these textile traditions
  • Up-close viewing of textiles from the expert’s personal collection
  • The tour will be conducted by a textile expert. Visitors will get a hands-on experience at the actual site where the weavers will be plying their craft. This textile tour of the Foundation is a wonderful opportunity to actually meet the weavers, hand-block printers and the vegetable dye painters; this interaction is further enriched by the detailed explanations shared by the expert of the time-honoured processes of these textile traditions. Guests will get to see the silk sarees woven and completed to the point where they are ready to be sold. Furthermore, they will be shown a small outlet where the sarees, dress material etc are sold, so they know what the finished product looks like. If there is time, there can be another opportunity to visit a recommended saree shop where they will arrange to show them the variety of sarees available. This in no way indicates guests are compelled to buy anything; rather, it is just to give them an idea of the fantastic range of handlooms, sarees and dress material from all over India. As a special add-on viewings can be arranged of the various textiles from the expert’s personal collection.

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