Sirumugai shawl — a thread from Coimbatore to China

L N Revathy | | Updated on: Oct 14, 2019
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If Mamallapuram hogged all the attention on account of the Chinese President’s visit last week, the little hamlet of Sirumugai near Coimbatore also rose to the occasion but for a different reason.

The gold and red-silk shawl that Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented to President Xi Jinping bearing the latter’s image was the handiwork of a weaver from Sirumugai, a town about 35 km from Coimbatore.

The town houses around 5,000 weavers. Amongst them, designer-cum weaver M Dharmaraj stands out as the shawl was designed by him and woven by his team — Shanmugasundaram and Manoj.

Stating that the project was assigned in total confidence by the Director of Handlooms and Textiles, these weavers belonging to Sri Ramalinga Sowdambigai Weavers’ Cooperative Society said that it took the team about 30 days to weave the shawl, which weighed about 550 gms, was 90 inches long and 48 inches wide, with the image of the Chinese President at the centre flanked by floral designs.

“Our first piece was blue-coloured silk shawl carrying the portrait of the leader. We were then asked to replicate it in red. We have retained a piece in the Society,” Dharmaraj said, bringing to mind some of the thematic sarees such as the one bearing 1,330 Thirukural couplets, seven wonders of the world and portraits of national leaders, many of which have won the society national acclaim.


Though Dharmaraj, a school drop out has been specialising on the design aspect for over three decades, he says that this was the first time that they had incorporated the designer’s name in the tag. “I am elated. The tag usually carries the name of the weaver; this is the first time that they have recognised the designer as well.”

He says that customers place orders for incorporating the portrait of the bride and groom on the saree pallu. “We have regular walk-ins for such stuff, and the trend is catching up.”

Published on October 14, 2019

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