An array of motifs on the border (or pallu) of the saree which borrows their imagery from temple architecture of southern India, temple borders are commonly associated with kanjeevaram silk sarees. Woven as figurative relief on cotton and silk sarees, the temple border is usually in contrast to their solid colours of vermilion red, grape green, rani pink, turmeric and indigo.
The architectural panels of temples of southern India, such as gopurams, the temple gateways, are a distinctive feature of Dravida style of temples. Sometimes this gopuram is morphed into a triangular shape called the pillayar moggu when rendered on a saree’s border. In other cases, a solid border at the end of the saree, called gettipettu, is woven with several motifs such as the eyes of peacock and koel, floral motifs, elephants, kalash (pot), etc.
With the increasing use of pattern harness in textile production which lead to the spread of the technique from Varanasi to southern India in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the temple motifs came to populate silk sarees of Mysore, Bengaluru, Molakalmuru, Armoor, Narayanpet, Dharmavaram, Thanjavur, Madurai and Kanchipuram. The temple border doesn’t only serve an aesthetic function, it also adds strength and weight to the ends of the saree, which are subjected to most wear and tear, and integrate with the body of the saree through warp and weft.
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