What is Banarasi saree?
The Banarasi saree is a prized asset among Indian women. Varanasi is known for its brocade sarees and fabric. These sarees are works of art with heavy embroidery and magnificent gold and silver brocades. They are also a symbol of aristocratic living due to their expensive cost. Banarasi-specialist dealers in the Chowk region sell higher-end sarees for wholesale prices of Rs.75,000, with retail prices exceeding lakhs.
Sari weavers use a power loom to create the fundamental texture of the sari. The average Banarasi Sari takes 15 to 30 days to complete, with some taking longer. Hundreds of perforated cards are required to construct a single sari pattern. The weavers, who are the real people behind the delicacies, are the ones suffering. The promise of GI protection has failed to prevent the replication of low-cost Banarasi.
Cheap product imitations based on machines are becoming more popular. Weavers are the lowest paid because of a lack of payment standards, and exposure to synthetic dyes.
Banarasi sarees are made of excellent, soft materials that are delicately embroidered. Varanasi is known for its brocade sarees and fabric. These sarees have a thousand-year heritage and are in high demand all across the world. It’s also mentioned in Kautilya’s Arthshastra, as well as several foreign scripts. These sarees are works of art, with heavy embroidery and magnificent gold and silver brocades, and they are also a symbol of aristocratic living due to their expensive cost.
The Banarasi saree is a prized asset among Indian women. Banarasi sarees have long been a staple of the Indian bride’s attire, and they never fail to compliment a lady, making her feel delicate and feminine. The Banarasi sari is a testament to the traditional weaver’s brilliance.
Sarees are often produced on handlooms or power looms in Varanasi’s surrounding villages with the assistance of Varanasi weavers. These sarees stand out because of their rich needlework and beautiful gold and silver brocades.
The Origin of Banarasi Saree
Benaras was once known for producing cotton sarees, but silk weaving began in the 14th century during the Mughal period. According to historians, Gujarati silk weavers went to Varanasi following the Gujarat famine in 1603 and silk weaving became popular. Along with the golden or silver threads, colourful silk threads are employed in the motifs.
Banarasi Saree in Varanasi: The Long History
Benaras became a weaving centre during the Mughal era when workers from Persia arrived here. It witnessed the emergence of rich traditions such as kimkhwab (little dream), in which silk is hardly visible because of the zari. During the Colonial Period, the famed Banaras brocade became linked with European grandeur. Almost every North Indian bride wears a Banarasi saree to her wedding. The border and pallu have very ornate designs. Brocade is a type of textile in which the pattern is made by pushing the pattern thread through the warp. Because of the introduction of unusual materials such as plastics, the originality of the Benarasi weave is dwindling these days.
In truth, no connoisseur travels to Banaras with the intention of purchasing a genuine Banarasi from a retail shop. Almost every showroom in the city is a riot of crimson and sparkle. The gaddidars, wholesale operators who have come from weaving family heritage, are the ones who perform the hard labour. In their craft, the gaddidars represent generations of experience. They describe the quality of each style of Banarasi saree in detail, including minor variations from other variants. Jaamdani, tassar, rangkaadh, shikargah, kadhua… silverwork, zari… jaamdani, tassar, rangkaadh, shikargah, kadhua… jaamdani, tassar, rangkaadh, shikargah, kadhua Heaviness and lightness, delicacy and opulence, vibrancy and comfort, The entire breadth of what Banaras has to offer mesmerises.
Banarasi sarees make you reconsider your definition of luxury. Though these sarees come in a variety of price ranges, Banarasi-specialist dealers in the Chowk region sell higher-end sarees for wholesale prices of Rs.75,000, with retail prices exceeding lakhs. Fine items are shipped to countries with a high standard of living.
How are Banarasi saree made?
Sari weaving is a cottage industry for the millions of people that live in the Varanasi area. The majority of the silk used in Banarasi saris comes from Bangalore, in southern India. Sari weavers use a power loom to create the fundamental texture of the sari. Weavers produce the foundation by weaving the warp, which is 24 to 26 metres long. There are around 5600 thread wires with a 45-inch width in an ideal Banarasi Sari.
The weaving of a Banarasi sari necessitates collaboration. Sari should ideally be made by three people. One weaves, while the other creates bundles on the spinning ring. Another crucial step occurs at this stage. This has to do with the design of the motifs. In Varanasi, there are various traditional artisans that produce beautiful patterns for saris. To develop design boards, the artist first draws colour concepts on graph paper. Following the manufacture of punch cards, the final design is chosen.
Hundreds of perforated cards are required to construct a single Banarasi sari pattern. The prepared perforated cards are knitted on the loom with various threads and colours, then paddled in a methodical fashion to ensure that the main weaving picks up the correct colours and design. The average Banarasi Sari takes 15 to 30 days to complete, with some taking longer. However, this is not a hard and fast rule because it all relies on the complexity of the sari’s motifs and patterns.
Banarasi saree of various types
Design techniques for sarees
- Tanchoi: A technique said to have originated in China, uses a satin base and an extra weft to create the pattern.
- Jangla: A design in which widely scrolling and spreading vegetation motifs are used.
- Bafta: It is a pure silk brocade with a touch of gold.
- Amru: Finely woven brocade of variegated silk.
- Other important varieties are tissue, butidar, vasekat, and cutwork.
Banarasi sarees in the modern era
Banarasi sarees are typically worn at weddings, events, and significant occasions because of their vibrant colours and elaborate designs. Modern sarees that are light and comfy are in high demand.
Despite its glitz, the weavers, who are the real people behind the delicacies, are the ones that suffer. They are the lowest paid because of a lack of payment standards, and they are compelled to work long hours, endure the stress of working on handlooms, and be exposed to synthetic dyes. The GI designation was gained by weaving groups in 2009. Although organisations such as the Uttar Pradesh Handloom Fabrics Marketing Cooperative Federation, Varanasi Vastra Udyog Sangha, and Banaras HasthKargha Samiti are trying to improve the lives of weavers, the problem of market reforms and weavers’ welfare must be addressed.
Fraud in Banarasi Sarees
The promise of GI protection has failed to prevent the replication of low-cost Banarasi. Cheap product imitations based on machines are becoming more popular. In the market, low-cost raw materials such as plastic threads known as Banarasisarees are plentiful. Banana tree resin threads that have been polished to resemble silver or gold threads are commonly used.
Chinese copycat sarees are plentiful on the market, both in terms of price and quality. Phoney and low-cost materials with fake GI tags are becoming a market trend as commercialisation progresses, in order to fulfil rising local demand while high-quality products are supplied in posh overseas markets. The only way to get an authentic Banarasi is to purchase one from a government-owned and operated shop that has been open for several years.