What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear Banaras? It must be ‘Banarasi saris’! These saris are not just famous in India alone, they have gained overseas fan following as well! (thanks to the rising NRI community and Bollywood Movies).
Banarasi saris are a luxurious necessity in every Indian woman’s wardrobe! In fact an Indian bride’s wedding collection is incomplete without these royal drapes of silk! If you want to make a woman feel feminine, elegant and delicate at the same time then just gift her with a beautiful Banarasi Sari done up in gold and silk!
These saris owe their popularity to the Mughal era which saw some very talented Muslim craftsmen bringing this intricate art of weaving and designing to India. This was the time when sari weaving art was on a rise and Persian motifs were being used with the Indian traditional attire.
There is a whole cottage industry around Banaras also known as Varanasi for sari weaving. One can find many traditional motif artists and design experts who are into this family business since many generations. The silk for Banarasi saree unlike china silk is quite expensive and comes especially from South India, mostly Bangalore.
It basically involves 3 people- Weaver, person revolving the rings to create bundles and the motif artist. First of all, the weaver creates basic texture for saari on handloom or power loom. While he is creating the warp he also defines the base of the sari which is 24 to 26 meters in length.
The designing work stars after. Normally, a motif artist prepares sketch with colors on paper. After the final selection, punch cards are created. For a single design it takes several profiterated cards which are knitted together with different colored threads.
A normal Benarasi saree involves 5600 thread wires with 45 inch width. It takes about 15 days or a month or even longer for a Banarasi sari to get completed depending upon the design and pattern!
The embroidery art on Banarsi sari is known as Zardozi and they are quite famous amongst women of all ages! Meenakari associated with gold jewllery is attempted in the same manner on the gold brocade designs by the creative artists!
Some popular types of Banarasi sarees are
Pure silk (katon)
Organza (kora) with zari and silk