Banarasi Saree

Varanasi holds immense historical and religious significance, making it one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and a major pilgrimage site for Hindus. However, it is not just its spiritual aura that attracts visitors; Varanasi is renowned for its mesmerizing Banarasi sarees. Banarasi saree, also known as Banarasi silk saree, is traditional and exquisite attire originating from Varanasi, a city situated on the banks of the holy Ganges River in India. Renowned for its rich heritage and cultural significance, Varanasi has been producing these opulent sarees for centuries. They are a symbol of elegance, grace, and timeless beauty. The craftsmanship, intricacy, and elegance of these sarees have captivated people for centuries. Varanasi has become synonymous with these sarees, and shopping for them has become an essential part of the experience for anyone visiting this enchanting city.

Banarasi Saree: A Symbol of Elegance

There is a deep cultural and historical significance to the Banarasi saree in India. They are often seen as a sign of prosperity and elegance and an important part of a bride’s wedding outfit. With their fine silk fabric, intricate brocade designs, and timeless elegance, Banarasi sarees are a symbol of beauty and grace. The process of creating a Banarasi saree involves highly skilled craftsmanship and takes several weeks to complete. These sarees are cherished as heirlooms and are often passed down through generations, symbolizing elegance, grace, and tradition. Be it a wedding, festivals, or any joyous occasion, the Banarasi saree adds a touch of sophistication and magnificence to every woman’s wardrobe, making it an epitome of timeless beauty.

A Glimpse into the Past of Banarasi Sarees

The Banarasi saree has gone a long way from its days of draping the shapes of royalty to its current status as a global fashion icon. Banarasi sarees have been around for a long time, more than a thousand years. It is believed that the art of weaving silk in Varanasi began during the Mughal era in the 14th century. During the famine in Gujarat in 1603, many silk weavers moved to Banaras. It is likely that silk brocade weaving began in Banaras in the 17th century and became very good in the 18th and 19th centuries. Over time, Banarasi sarees became a staple in royal households and gradually gained popularity among the masses. The first time brocade and Zari fabrics from Banaras are talked about is in the 19th century.

In recent years, about 1.2 million people in the Gorakhpur, Bhadohi, Chandauli, Jaunpur, Sarnath, and Azamgarh districts, which are near Varanasi, work directly or indirectly in the hand loom silk industry. They make the traditional Banarasi sari in their homes.

The Craftsmanship behind Banarasi Sarees

Even though technology has come a long way in recent years, the old city of Varanasi has brought back the art of hand weaving in a big way. Gold and silver strings are used to make the sarees, which are made by skilled people in the city. One of the most remarkable aspects of Banarasi sarees is the craftsmanship involved in their creation. Weavers, often having inherited the art from previous generations, spend countless hours working meticulously to produce these beautiful pieces of art. The sarees are woven using high-quality silk threads, giving them their characteristic sheen and smooth texture.

The most iconic feature of Banarasi sarees is the intricate brocade work. The designs are typically inspired by nature, Mughal art, and ancient motifs. The weaving technique used in Banaras is known as ‘kadhwa’, where patterns are woven individually by hand. This intricate process requires great skill and patience, as even the smallest mistakes can ruin the entire fabric. Depending on how complicated the designs and patterns are, it can take anywhere from 10 days to a month or even six months to finish a saree.

Significance and Versatility of Banarasi Sarees

Made from finely woven silk fabric, Banarasi sarees are characterized by their intricate designs and patterns, often featuring gold and silver brocade work, floral motifs, and beautiful zari work. These sarees hold sentimental value for families that’s why they are passed down through generations. While Banarasi sarees embrace their rich historical roots, they have also adapted to the changing fashion trends. Modern elements have been added by newer and younger designers, such as fusion patterns, unusual color combinations, and lighter fabrics.

Banarasi sarees are not limited to special occasions and weddings; they can be adorned on various festive celebrations, religious ceremonies, and cultural gatherings. They evoke a sense of pride and appreciation for the rich heritage and craftsmanship of India. In recent years, these sarees have gained international recognition as well, with fashion enthusiasts across the globe appreciating their timeless beauty. Despite the modernization of the textile industry, the traditional art of Banarasi saree weaving still persists. However, the craft faces significant challenges such as competition from power looms and a decline in the number of skilled artisans.

A Look at Varieties of Banarasi Sarees

Banarasi sarees are more than just sarees; they are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of India. Banarasi sarees come in various types, each with its own unique features and design patterns. Some of the most popular types include:

1. Jamdani: Known for their delicate and intricate floral motifs, Jamdani Banarasi sarees are true works of art. The name “Jamdani” comes from the Persian words “Jam,” which means “flower,” and “Dani,” which means “vase.” It literally means that Jamdani sarees have a lot of flower designs on them.

2. Shikargarh: The Shikargarh Banarasi sarees showcase motifs inspired by wildlife, including birds, animals, and hunting scenes. These sarees are often favored by those who appreciate nature and its beauty. Shikargarh is a type of Banarasi saree with designs that are based on different parts of nature. Shikargarh is not just a Banarasi sari; it is also a form of art in its own right.

3. Katan: Katan is a plain cloth made from woven threads of pure silk that are then twisted and woven into pure silk sarees. Katan is a saree that is strong and stays in place for a long time. Since it’s mostly made of silk, it has a unique sheen and shine. In the past, Katan sarees were made on handlooms. At the moment, weaving is done with fast looms and power looms.

4. Tanchoi: The Tanchoi Banarasi sarees are known for their colorful and elaborate patterns. They often feature intricate floral borders and elaborate pallus, making them ideal for special occasions. Tanchoi sarees are different from the other Banarasi sarees. Each Tanchoi saree stands out because of the weaves and patterns that are raised. Each saree has a famous way of weaving silk that came from China to India in the 19th century.

5. Jangla: The word “Jangla” means “jungle” and the designs on the sarees are based on forests. A Jangla saree’s thick zari work is made up of very detailed weaving and 24 carat gold designs. Jangla Banarasi sarees are known for their intricate and dense weaving technique. The sarees feature ornate designs, often depicting mythical creatures like peacocks, elephants, and parrots.