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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The Fluid saree Zine

“The Fluid Zine” is a how-to learning guide on draping the unstitched Sari.

I have recently published “The Fluid Zine”. It is a one of a kind book that will teach you how to wear a Saree in 5 unique drapes that are functional, versatile and chic. It has some amazing art in it drawn by a young artist coupled with content that has never been published before. I am sure it will inspire you to wear the Sari!

The book is simple to follow and also doubles up as a colouring book! In this book, you will learn how to wear five different saree drapes. You will also learn to style the saree for work, casual wear and even sports! Each drape instruction comes with options on how to customize the drape to suit your taste, personality and mood. The book is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The book is available for online purchase here.

Images of The Fluid Saree Zine
The Fluid Zine

Want to know more about the drapes you will learn in the saree draping book, The Fluid Saree Zine? Keep reading and get inspired!

Dress drape

The dress drape is one that I am particularly proud of. I was meeting a friend at Starbucks and wanted to wear a Sari without the attention it begets in other drapes. I literally closed my eyes and envisioned a dress. Once opened, my eyes guided my hands and lo and behold, I improvised a new drape within minutes!

Nikaytaa wearing an Ikkat saree in the dress drape
Dress drape. Photo: SuruPixels

Odisha DANCE SAREE drape

Odisha dance saree drape as the name suggests finds its origins in the state of Odisha. It was worn by the Odissi dance community who need freedom of movement. The drape can further be modified to a jumpsuit, and a pair of pants or shorts.

The drape is comfortable and allows for fast strides. It is perfect for those who wish to ride a bike in a Sari! I have even run a 10k Pinkathon race in a modified pants drape (pic below).

Workshop participant wearing a handloom saree in the pants drape
Pants drape. Photo: Rkphotographyyy
Nikaytaa wearing the dhoti drape for Pinkathon 10k run
Variation – Pants drape modified to run comfortably

Madhubani saree drape

The Madhubani saree drape is originally from Bihar. It was worn by the rural community of North Bihar. The peplum pleats are a functional way of raising the height of the Sari to aid the wearer. The drape is traditionally worn with a Seedha palla (popularly known as the Gujarati pallu).

The drape is simple and allows for versatility in that it can be modified into a gown, a Sari drape and even a skirt. I usually complement the drape with a Sari that has a contrasting border.

Workshop participants in the Madhubani saree drape
Madhubani drape
Madhubani saree drape for a vacation
Variation – Madhubani drape with a tie-scarf. Photo: Baishampayan Ghose

One shoulder saree drape

The one-shouldered saree drape is inspired by the Yakshagana Parvati Kase drape from Karnataka. The Yakshagana drape is worn with a nine-yard Sari. I improvised the nine-yard drape to a five yard so as to make it accessible for those who may not have a nine yard Sari in their collection yet.

The drape is smart, comfortable and versatile. It can be worn with a sweater, a t-shirt, a blouse and even without a bra! It is perfect for those hot humid summers in most of India.

Model wearing the One shoulder drape at a photoshoot
One-shouldered drape

Skirt saree drape

The skirt saree drape is the most simple drapes in my repertoire. With the right accessories it can be a formal as well as an informal drape. I pair this drape with sweaters, t-shirts, and crop tops. 99 out of 100 times, people do not notice I am wearing a Sari.

Workshop attendees in the skirt saree drape
Skirt drape. Photo: RkPhotographyyy
Nikaytaa in the Skirt drape at Lakme Fashion Week
Variation – Skirt drape. Photo: Tisva lighting

Feeling inspired and excited? Order your copy of The Fluid Zine now!