The Coorg Saree Drape of Karnataka

The Coorg Saree drape or the Kodagu or Kodava Saree drape is favourable amongst upper class Coorgi women of Karnataka. The Coorg Saree drape is one of the few Saree drapes of India with the pleats at the back. The other Saree drape with pleats at the back is the Venuka Gundaram drape from Andhra Pradesh. Keep reading to learn the design, functionality, and origins of the Coorg Saree drape.

Design of the Coorg Saree drape

The Coorg Saree drape of Karnataka with a Vastra
The Coorg Saree drape of Karnataka with a Vastra
Photo: Trupti Mulajkar Deshmukh

The pleats of the Coorg Saree drape tuck in the back of the waist. The pallu drapes across the chest below the left shoulder. The pallu drapes over the right shoulder in a firm small knot called ‘Molakattu‘.

Alongwith the Saree drape, the women of Coorg drape a piece of cloth on their head called the ‘Vastra’. The Vastra drapes over the forehead and knots at the back. The rest of the fabric falls elegantly over the back. In the past, only married women would wear the Vastra.

Check out this fashion show where the model in the photo above, walks the fashion ramp comfortably in the Coorg drape from Karnataka.

Functionality

The mountains of Coorg, Karnataka
The mountains of Coorg, Karnataka
Photo: Maskaravivek [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Coorg is located in the Western Ghats in south-western Karnataka at an elevation of 3000ft. The region is mostly mountainous. The people of Coorg lead an active life and spend a lot of their time climbing up and down the slopes in their mountainous homeland.

The Kodava drape helps women in their movement in the mountains. With the pleats at the back, women in the jungles can easily climb trees in this Saree drape; an important survival skill. The Coorgi women wear the Vastra to protect their head. The Coorgi women have not changed their attire as have men. This may be proof that the Coorg drape is functional and provides women the comfort they need to traverse the mountains.

Origin & history of the Coorg Saree drape

A set of dolls wearing the Kodava attire of Coorg, Karnataka
A set of dolls wearing the Kodava attire of Coorg, Karnataka
Photo: Gopal Venkatesan from Cupertino, United States
[CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

The Coorgi saree drape has a mythological history. Lopamudra or Kaveri marries Agastya. Legend has it that Agastya had kept Kaveri, whom he had married for her beauty, confined in his Kamandala or water pot. He falls in love with someone else. Kaveri starts weeping on knowing this truth about her husband’s new found love. Ganesha hears her cries and releases her from the vessel. She flows out as the river Kaveri. Agastya tries to stop her. Having had enough, Kaveri washes over the land. The Coorgi women try to stop Kaveri. They fail and in the process Kaveri sweeps the pleats of the women’ sarees from front to back.

About Author

Nikaytaa is a Sari Researcher and founder of The Indian Draping Co. She writes about the Sari and the art of draping one. Follow her on social media for daily updates.

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