Varansi, also known as Benaras or Banaras is considered to be one of the oldest city and very much popular for Silk fabrics of unique designs. It has powerful force of skilled weavers of handlooms to produce intricate design on fabrics. The designs produced are of their own tradition and creation consists of intricate floral and foliate motifs. The fabrics are distinguished from other Indian state fabrics in terms of design and weaving characteristics. The design includes dense border patterns woven as supplementary weft threads with highly decorated end piece. The oldest city was famous for weaving cotton sarees and dress materials in ancient times and the change has happened in 14th century as weavers switched over to silk weaving using gold/Silver threads. Fabrics are so popular that customers wear them on special occasions such as wedding/festival/functions at home or neighbor place. Foreigners visiting Varansi are attracted by these and normally buy them. Following Paragraphs gives details about some of the prominent and popular silk fabrics.

The fabrics (Sarees) are classified based on varieties are;

Katan-Pure silk sarees that are created with beautiful patterns and are produced using hand looms (ancient times), now Powerloom and rapier looms are used.

Organza with Zari and Silk-Brocades are kind of fabrics that need thrusting the pattern thread between the warp. i.e., Weaving of fabric needs warp and weft. Weft thread passes over/under the warp regularly. But, in brocade, depending on design of the fabric to be woven, in place of regular weft passing warp, certain numbers of gold/silver/cotton weft threads are used. The designs may be regular/irregular based on which end appearance of fabrics varies. Actually silver threads are polished with gold, and these are wound so closely around a silk thread to Zari brocade. If only gold/silver threads are used, the fabric weigh becomes heavy that cannot be used for sarees instead they are used for hanging and furnishing.

Overview of Banaras Fabrics

is fine, light weight, open texture fabric usually in a plain weave, that are made from crepe yarns (highly twisted) usually two S twisted and Z twisted yarns in both warp and weft.

Shattir are used in creating exclusive and modernized Banaras sarees.

Based on design, the fabrics are classified as (some of them are discussed):

Jangla: In this type of Sarees colorful silk threads are used. It has Jangala intricate patterns adds value in design. Jangala vegetation motif, that scrolls and spread in sarees is expected to be first in Banaras brocades. Rose Saree consists of embellished gold creepers and silver flowers of Jangala motif gives stylish look.

Tanchoi: These types of Sarees are normally used in wedding ceremonies. Zari used in design. Extra weft is used for creating patterns. The motif are "Paisley" or "Labyrinth" are created by artisans. Multiple "Paisley" forms one growing out of other are found on end pieces of sarees. At the end piece of border and the cross border are embellished with miniature "Paisley".

Cut work Saree: These sarees are cheaper version of Jandhani. Silk Jandhani is produced by placing a certain number of warp threads with cotton and regular weft to produce intricate design. Motifs used are Jasmine, Marigold flower, leaf form etc., in cut work sarees, patterns are made, by cutting extra weft threads that hanging loose and these normally pass from selvedge to selvedge.

Tissue Sarees: These sarees are shining as Zari is used in weft. Extra weft has Zari and Silk and warp consists of Silk. The patterns used are dense with golden lotuses floating in a glimmering pond. Borders and Panel has a diaper of diamond patterns enclosed by a border of running "Paisley" motif.

Butidar Saree: It is a rich kind of saree in which local designs are used. It consists of gold, silver and silk pattern threads. Gold is darker in shade and silver is lighter in shade. End panel has a row of arches, in each of which bouquet of silver is placed.


Overview of Banaras Fabrics


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The authors are associated with Textile Testing Laboratory, CSTRI, CSB, Varanasi