One of the most significant cities of the Sapta Puri, Banaras, is the heart of Hindu devotion and cultural activities in India. However, the city’s enduring legacy is not just because of its religious significance and cultural connotation, as Banaras is also the abode of India’s finest silk sarees.
Several references to the ancient city’s prowess in fine silk weaving can be found in Buddhist texts and modern history books. In a survey conducted last month, 89% of the respondents marked Banarasi silk saree as the benchmark for quality and elegance amongst other saree varieties available in India.
Nowadays, Banarasi sarees are available in most of the textile shops in the country. However, it is important to buy authentic silk sarees from trustworthy suppliers like The Chennai Silks to ensure that one has purchased the right product.
The Mughals had an unquenchable fascination for weaving, which led to the craftsmen experimenting with the art and craft of designing. They were funded generously by their emperors for this particular reason.
As a result, the motifs and styles of Persian culture were blended with the tradition and plurality of Indian culture to give life to the finest Banarasi silk sarees that exude elegance.
Since then, the skill sets, the intricate patterns, and the secret behind the production of India’s hand-picked silk sarees began to be passed down from generation to generation.
It takes around fifteen days (it might take months if the design is very complex) to complete a Banarasi silk saree due to the meticulous weaving process that goes behind its production.
The captivating design and unique patterns of Banarasi silk sarees—with gold and silver brocades—continues to be the showstopper at wedding ceremonies. The opulent embroidery and premium quality silk used in production make them a coveted possession for Indian women.
The Mughal influence of the sarees is evident in their floral design and complex foliate patterns. Furthermore, the border is rich with upright leaves, and they are known as Jhallar.
Additionally, stunning visual effects, impressive goldwork, carefully integrated figures, pallus, and compact weaving make them the most sought-after sarees in the country.
When people say ‘Banarasi silk saree’, it broadly refers to the silk saris produced in Varanasi and its neighboring districts— Azamgarh, Chandauli, Mirzapur, Bhadohi, and Jaunpur. As per reports, around twelve lakh people are directly or indirectly associated with the silk production industry in these areas. Sarees produced outside the districts mentioned above are not authentic Banarasi sarees.
The origin of the English word brocade can be traced back to the Italian word “broccato” (meaning: imprinted cloth), which is the past participle of “broccare” (meaning: to decorate). Today, the word brocade is mainly attributed to opulent embroidery in weaving.
However, the attribution of the term has a specific purpose when it comes to Banarasi sarees. Depending on the design, lining, pattern, and materials used, Banarasi brocade can be divided into Amni, Tanchoi, Kincab, Zari, Opaque zari, and Banaras brocades.
Types of Banarasi Sarees
JANGALA: Foliage motifs dominate in this Saree variety. Overall, the design is rich with wild creepers and silver flowers, while the borders usually have running creepers (a blend of silver and gold threads). The borders normally maintain a fusion of different motifs in Banarasi jangala silk sarees. Mina work is employed to make the saree more stylish and appealing.
BUTIDAR: Butidar sarees are the most sought-after variety amongst Banarasi sarees. The unique blend of silk, gold, and silver brocades makes these sarees unique. The Ganga Jamuna border of these sarees has light silver and dark gold shades.
Genuine Katan silk is used in the production of these sarees. Threads of silver, gold, and silver make these sarees stunning.
TISSUE: The most delicate amongst all Banarasi sari varieties, tissue sarees are known for their exceptional cutwork and floral patterns. They are made from fine silk and therefore resemble the texture of tissue paper.
The ‘water drop’ cutwork and the ‘floating lotuses’ are the highlights of this variety. Indian women usually prefer tissue sarees for engagements and wedding ceremonies.
JAMDANI: The saree variety got its name from the Persian language, and therefore it strongly resonates with the Mughal influence. The word ‘Jam’ indicates flower, and ‘dani’ indicates vase. The name anticipates the gorgeous floral patterns present in these sarees.
Because they are made up of superior cotton muslin, jamdani sarees are extremely thin, soft, and airy. The eye-catching motifs maintain a floating presence on the ultra-thin outer fabric. Fish, lotus, diamonds, and paisleys usually feature jamdani silk sarees.