Royal collection

Print edition : October 10, 2008

Mysore silk saris on display.-M. A. SRIRAM

THE saris that adorned the women of the Mysore royal family will soon be on display at a museum in the city. The land for the building has been identified next to the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporations (KSIC) silk factory.

With just fours years to go for the centenary of the silk factory set up by Maharaja Narasimharaja Wodeyar, the KSIC has plans to set up a heritage museum to showcase the garment favoured by queens. Its managing director, P. Vijayan, said he would request members of the royal family to give some of the heritage saris to the museum.

He also plans to approach Princess Parvatibai of Travancore, who is said to have a collection of Mysore silks that were inherited from her grandmother. The KSIC will buy heritage saris also from others who have inherited them.

The KSIC conducted vintage sari competitions in the past three years. Interestingly enough, it found 1,026 classic saris that were more than 40 years old and in perfect condition. The oldest one was 57 years old and could be still worn as new. These will be showcased in the museum.

Also on exhibition in the museum will be photographs featuring the cocoon-to-fabric process of making Mysore silk. There will be a live demonstration of the process at the factory.

Mysore silk, which is known for its elegance, has a double-twisted yarn which gives it a grainy effect. It is lighter than all other silks made in the country. A typical Mysore silk sari has just one layer of zari running along it and has a simple zari-filled pallu. The zari has 65 per cent silver and 0.65 per cent gold. This is a standard that has been maintained since 1912 when Maharaja Narasimharaja Wodeyar set up his silk factory.

Sensing the popularity of Mysore silk dress materials included in India and abroad, the KSIC has been adding innovative designs to its repertoire. It has outlets in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and cities in Kerala. It plans to give out franchises in other Indian cities.

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