Tamil literature is a wonderful source to understand the various words used to denote cloth. From the Sangam age to the 12th Century, it is a treasure house of information.
Sanga thamizh mentions Aadai, udai, thazhai, thugil, kalingam, aruvai, udukai, kachu, eerani, porvai, kazhagam, kacham, madi, seerai, padam, poongarai neelam. The Neethi-nool kalam mentions even more types like – Aratham (red colour cloth) kodi, koorai, pudavai, masani, pattam etc.,
Koorai is a word that denotes the type of cloth, probably from the term Koorai – paduthuthal (கூறை படுத்ததல்). The bride during her mangalya dharanam wore an auspicious drape called Koorai-pudavai (கூறைபுடவை)
Koorainadu got its name because they made this type of cloth. This small town near Mayavaram got a mention in the Raja Raja 1 inscriptions, for its famous cotton done for the entire Chola kingdom ( Ref. Mudhalam Rajaraja cholan, Thirunavukkuarasu). Now the town name is corrupted to Koranad, thanks to the British.
The Thanjavur Gazateer records the weaving of pure silk at Thanjavur and Kumbakonam, especially by the Pattunulkarans, or the Saurashtra weavers. “The Tanjore patterns were enriched with gilt lace imported from France, had figures of animals and flowers in the body of the cloth, and borders are formed with separate shuttles. Kumbakonam made pure silk cloth for women called Pitambaram, this pattern is said to have been imported from Benares! The body of the cloth is generally red, sometimes divided by lace into squares and diamonds, with both ends varied with lines and figures of different colours” ( this is contradictory because the Indian reference to Pitambaram was always a yellow cloth, worn as a dhoti by Mahavishnu!)
The Gazetteer also mentions that Kumbakonam made good silk tartans embroidered with lace flowers used by Mohammadans for trousers, which was exported to Penang and other places. “The dyes used for the pure silk were imported mineral pigments. They are more bright than the country dyes, though less lasting, and the women, who buy a silk cloth more for the show than for solid use, like their brightness and do not mind their fugitiveness” (Enjoy the dig at us)
“The majority of the cloths woven in Tanjore districts have a cotton foundation with a larger or smaller mixture of silk. Of this kind, are the famous cloths of Koranadu (Near Mayavaram) and Ayyampettai which made “kuttuni” with a silk warp and cotton woof. The silk is made to show on the top side and cotton on the other“
“The famous Koranadu cloths are chiefly of the plain striped patterns with lace threads mixed in the warp or the woof. The greater part of the cloth consists of silk. Country dyes are used, and the predominant colour is orange (a local natural dye called kapili). The weavers also made good tartan for the bodices”