Is a wedding trousseau complete without a Banarasi silk saree? Should we even ask? Characterized by zari borders and a full pallu, these sarees are coveted by shoppers all over the country and usually end up being handed down the generations.
In the ancient time Banaras was famous for the weaving of cotton saree and dress materials, but slowly switched over to silk weaving, during the Moghal period around 14th century weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold and silver threads was the speciality of Banaras.
The Banarasi silk saree craftsmanship developed in the Mughal era.It was the Mughals who first elevated silk to a fashionable item, using it for garments, turbans and shawls. Akbar is said to have invited weavers from West Asia to work in India and it is this particular mélange of Persian and native traditions that gave rise to the ‘traditional’ pattern of Banarasi sarees. Since Islam prohibits the depiction of human figures, the saree weavers incorporated animal, floral, geometric and ‘temple’ or ‘pagoda’ figures into their creations and thus came about the famous Banarasi silk saree.
Weaving a saree is a notoriously hard business. Even with the advent of a power loom it takes three craftsmen anywhere from 15 days to six months to produce one saree. The result is a creation with luminescent borders, brilliant colours and stunning designs. The Banarasi Jamdani with motifs of chameli, genda buti (marigold flower) and panna hazaar (thousand emeralds) is prized among connoisseurs.
Exclusive varieties of the saris are Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tishu, and Butidar which are made of silk warp and silk weft, on plain/satian ground base, brocaded with extra weft patterns in different layouts introducing Buties, Bells, creepers, Buttas in ground, border and Anchal for getting glamours appearance.
Types of Banarasi Sarees:
Brocade refer to those textiles where in patterns are created in weaving by transfixing or thrusting the pattern-thread between the warp. In regular weaving the weft thread passes over and under the warp thread regularly. But when brocade designs in gold, silver silk or cotton threads are to be woven, special threads are transfixed in between by skipping the passage of the regular weft over a certain number of warp threadssaree1.jpg (11012 bytes) (depending upon the pattern) and by regularising the skipping by means of pre-arranged heddles for each type of patterning. There may be several sets of heddles so arranged that on different occasions, they raise and depress irregular number of threads in turn, as required by the exigencies of the pattern.
Zari-brocades-When gold and silver threads are use along with or without silk-threads, thrust either as special weft or warp to create glittering raised or-namentation. We have the Zari brocade kind of fabrics. When we talk of gold or silver threads. It is to be under stood that the gold,threads are actually only silver threads with gold polish and that these threads are obtained by closely winding extremely fine gold or silver wire around a silk thread.
According to Sir George Watt, When the gold and silver threads were used so densely that the ground was hardly visible, the material was kinkhab proper and was too heavy for clothing, it was therefore used for trappings, hangings and furnishing. Only that material in which the Zari patterns were scattered was true brocade. This was used for clothing.
BANARAS SILK JAMDANI :-
The silk Jamdani, a technical variety of brocade or the 'figured muslin' ,traditionally woven in Banaras may be considered to be one of the finest products to come out of the Banarasi loom. Here silk fabric is brocaded with cotton and rarely with zari threads. jamdani is woven by transfixing the pattern thread between a varying number of warp threads in proportion to the size of the designed then throwing the shuttle to pass the regular weft. By repeating this process, where in the size and placing of the cut-thread is in accordance with the character of the pattern, the Jamdani weaver produces arrange of intricate designs.
Some of the traditional motifs of Jamdani included Chameli (Jasmine), panna hazar (Thousand emeralds) genda buti (marigold flower)pan buti (leaf form) tircha (diagonally striped) etc. The most attractive design feature of the Jamdani sari was konia or a corner-motif having a floral mango buta.
It has own special character of (URTU) Binding in the figured disignes on ground fabrics using extra weft designs thread dampatch technique for the or namentation of the sharee. It is silk x silk base fabrics or-namented with extra looking and technique of weaving in karhuwan.
JANGLA SAREE :-
Brocade weavers of Banares have often endeavoured to add a sense of gaiety and festivity by brocading patterns in colourful silk threads amidst the usual gold and silver motifs ;of the brocade convention. The present sari is an example in which muga silk motifs have been in laid. Jangala wildly scrolling and spreading vegetation motif is among the eldest in Banares brocades. This old rose sari is embellished with beautifully contrasted gold-creepers and silver flowers of the Jangala motif.The borders have brocaded running creepers in muga silk and gold and silver-Zari threds.The end panel is a combination of motifs of the borders and condensed Jangala of the field. Muga silk brocading in-hances the beauty of the sari while reducing the cost. All over Jal Jangla design to get the stylish work of the sarees and also used mena work for the decoration of the fabrics. The exclusive design saree has time taking skilled work, costly fabrics are widely accepted during the wedding occassion.
JAMAWAR TANCHOI SARI :-
Using a technique similar to that of brocade, weavers of Banaras weave saris using colorful extraweft silk yarn for patterning . This varietyis known as tanchoi. This maroon-coloured sari in satin weave is brocaded with elaborate motifs from the Jamawar shawl tradition from Kashmir, the characteristic feature of which was paisley motif, often elaborated into a maze which would look kateidos-copic in character. The field has a densely spread minute diaper of Jamawar style paisley. The end panel has large motifs of multiple paisley forms-one growing out of the other. The border, as well as the cross-borders of the end panel, have miniature paisley creepers. Tanchoi fabric has remarkable fame in the India as well as all over in the world widely acceptable to all kind of the people.
TISSU SAREE :-
The renowned Zari brocade weavers of Banaras has evolved a technique of weaving tissue material which looked like golden cloth. By running Zari in weft a combination of Zari and silk in extra-weft (pattern thread) and silk in warp, the weave of this sari has densely patterned with golden lotuses floating in a glimmering pond.The 'drops of water' are created by cut work technique. The borders and the end panel have a diaper of diamond patterns enclosed by a border of running paisley motifs. Tissue saris are most popular as wedding saris among the affluent. Tissue sari has glazed, shining character due to the use of real gold Zari/Silver Zari in weft on silk worp ground are ornamented with the particulars traditional design such as Jangla Butidar, Shikargah menadar etc.
CUTWORK SAREE :-
This type of saree prepared by cut work technique on plain ground texture after removing of the floated thread which are not design (Woven) during the weaving process which provide good transparent look.
Cut work is the cheaper version of the Jamdani variety. In cut work the ;pattern is made to run from selvage to selvage letting it hang loosely between two motifs and the extra-thread is then cut manually, giving the effect of Jamdani.
BUTIDAR SAREE :-
The most striking feature of this dark blue silken saree is that it is brocaded with pattern threads of gold, silver and silk. Due to darkar shade of gold and lighter of silver this variety of patterning in brocade is conventionally known as Ganga-Jamuna, indicating the confluence of these two river whose waters are believed to be dark and light receptively. The end panel has a row of arches, in each of which a bouquet of flowers is placed. A slightly smaller and variegated bouquet is diapered all over the field.
The butidar saree is a rich kind of the Banaras Saree in high traditional pattern and motiff of the design locally popularised such as Angoor Bail, Gojar Bail, Luttar Bail, Khulta bail, Baluchar bail, Mehrab bail, Doller butti,Ashraffi Butti, Latiffa Butti, Reshem Butti Jhummar Butti,Jhari Butta, Kalma Butti,Patti Butti, Lichhi Butti, Latiffa Butta, Kairy Kalanga Thakka Anchal, Mehrab Anchal, Baluchar Butta with the use of real gold and silver Jari and Katan silk in the weft.
For the best Banarsi Silk buys head to ‘Garib Ki Dukaan’ at Gali Rani Kuan in Varanasi. On old and famous shop, any rickshaw-wala can direct you there. In fact, this whole gali is lined with silk shops. Locals also recommend Kachori Gali, Chowk and Dula Nalla for their Banarasi silk shops.