- Records on Sarees can be found in Indian texts as old as 300 B.C.
- The Banarasi saree is crafted in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh these days.
Sarees are undoubtedly Indian. They are without question a vital marker of Indian tradition and heritage. People of other nationalities and cultures would identify the saree as one of the authentic components of the Indian experience.
In that vast and complex world of sarees, the Banarasi silk saree does require special recognition. Banarasi sarees have evolved from traditional bridal sarees in Bengali weddings to an internationally recognized icon of Indian fashion.
It is no longer confined to its origin and has become a favorite for women of all religions and social statuses in India.
Origins of Banarasi silk saree
Records on Sarees can be found in Indian texts as old as 300 B.C. However, the Banarasi saree is unique because its origins are rooted in the coming together of two cultures. It is conceived as a result of the fusion of Mughal and Hindu styles of that period.
It is a story of the harmonious admixture of the best from both worlds. Mughal craftsmanship and artistry, along with the intricate weaving techniques and designs of Hindu textile culture, resulted in the Banarasi saree people love and wear today.
The silk that was required for weaving the Banarasi saree was imported from China during older times. The southern states of India now provide the silk used for its production.
The unique features of the Banarasi silk saree
The Banarasi saree is crafted in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh these days. They are known for their rich and complex embroidery work. Banarasi sarees can usually be divided into four variants.
They are the organza or Kora type, the Georgette saree, the Shatir saree, and the pure silk type, also called Katan. The silk type can be further divided into many varieties. These include the Jangla, Tanchoi, Brocade, cutwork, Resham Butidar, and satin borders.
They differ from each other in a multitude of ways, but the essential distinction is design. Sarees could have varying designs from flora and fauna to geometric patterns. The Persian influence in these designs is notable.
The gold embroidery on these sarees was initially made using real gold and silver threads in the past. These were specifically made for royalty in those days. Actual Gold and silver have been replaced with painted gold and silver threads in contemporary times. It makes these art forms accessible for everyone.
The process of making the Banarasi silk saree
The creation of Banarasi silk sarees is an extensive undertaking. The process starts on the drawing board of the saree designer. The designer initially sketches designs on graph papers along with the coloring instructions.
After the design is finalized, it is transferred to a set of punch cards that align to the saree’s dimensions. The cards are then attached to the loom, and different colored threads are used to knit the design onto the saree.
The weaving of the saree is a separate process that starts in conjunction with the design process. It requires a minimum of three weavers working as a team. Each weaver is assigned a specific section of the process.
The first weaver weaves the saree, while the second weaver controls the revolving ring on which the saree is rolled into. The third weaver helps in designing the borders. A typical saree would contain around 5400 individual lines of thread and has a width of about 45 inches.
The base is made to be approximately 23-25 inches long. The whole process could take from 2 weeks to more than a month. The duration is dependent on the complexity of patterns and designs.
Revival of Banarasi Silk Sarees
The earlier days of the industrialization of textile manufacturing affected the Banarasi silk industry. The traditional saree makers faced stiff competition from the fast and efficient machine loom factories.
Thankfully, the government stepped in and saved the industry from certain stoppage. The weaver association of Uttar Pradesh was allocated copyright on Banarasi Saree design. Copyright can prevent cheaply made look-alikes from flooding the market to a certain extent.
Banarasi silk sarees are recognized all around the world for their intricate patterns and unique designs. It has become a staple in the wardrobe of elites and celebrities all over India.
The rich colors and classic styling of these sarees have made them popular at parties, weddings, and formal functions. The demand for it outside the country also has to be acknowledged. Indian silk is exported to more than 200 countries in the world.
The cultural significance and heritage of these sarees have also made them coveted in the west. They are popular as not just clothing but as a collector’s item for culture enthusiasts as well.