If there is one thing that defines a Chanderi saree, it is the “butti” or button like circles that flow through the weave. They aren’t attached or embroidered, they are part of the saree, as much a part of the warp and weft of the weave.
So how do you weave a series of buttis into a saree? I was surprised at how clean and ingenious the solution is. Watch the below videos carefully. The first one is a man weaving on a jacquard loom. A finite number of threads are pulled up simultaneously, allowing him to string the coloured yarn through multiple buttis.
Now watch the below video clip. This is not a jacquard loom. It is an old fashioned pit-loom where everything is done by hand. Watch how Samaruddin Ansari, the weaver, puts wedges into a group of threads tied together, thus lifting them up. Then, he strings the butti yarn through and, click-clack, one weft is brought in. Then stop, lift up the thread using what they call “gundiya,” and then string the buttis through again. So the process goes.
“Warp threads are thicker than the weft, and made of a coarser wool as well. I think of them as like wives. Their work is not obvious – all you can see are the ridges they make under the colorful weft threads. But if they weren’t there, there would be no tapestry.”
You can also see this process from both the front and the back side in this post. Click here and watch the videos. It is in the post “Clinking Bangles and Clapping Looms.”