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Banarasi saris

'Sari' from Varanasi (Banaras), silk and gold-wrapped silk yarn with supplementary weft brocade (zari)

Banarasi saris are saris made in Varanasi, a city which is also called "Benares." These saris are historically considered to be among the finest saris in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery, and being highly sought after. These saris are made of finely woven silk and are decorated with intricate design, and because of these engravings, these saris are relatively heavy. Their special characteristics are Mughal inspired designs such as intricate intertwining floral and foliate motifs, kalga and bel, a string of upright leaves called jhallar at the outer, edge of border is a characteristic of these sarees. Other distinctive features are Heavy gold work, Compact weaving, figures with small details, metallic visual effects, pallus, jal (a net like pattern), and mina work.[1] These saris are an inevitable part of any Indian bride's trousseau.[2][3]

Depending upon the intricacy of designs and patterns, a sari can take anywhere from 15 days to a one month and sometimes up to six months to complete. Banarasi saris are mostly worn by Indian women on important occasions such as when attending a wedding and are expected to be complemented by the woman's best jewelry.

Contents


History

A traditional Banarasi sari with gold brocade. Ralph Fitch (1583 91) describes Banaras as a thriving sector of the cotton textile industry. The earliest mention of the brocade and Zari textiles of Banaras is found in the 19th century. With the migration of silk weavers from Gujarat during the famine of 1603, it is likely that silk brocade weaving started in Banaras in the seventeenth century and developed in excellence during the 18th and 19th century. During the Mughal period, around 14th century, weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold and silver threads became the specialty of Banaras.[4][5]

The sari making is more of a cottage industry for about 12 lakh people associated directly or indirectly with the handloom silk industry of the region around Varanasi encompassing Gorakhpur, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts.[6]

Geographical indication rights

Silk handlooms, Varanasi. It takes two months for a sari to make Over the year, the Banarasi Silk handloom industry has been incurring huge losses because of the unfair competition from mechanised units producing the 'Baranasi silk sarees' at a much faster rate and at much cheaper cost, another source of competition has been sarees made of cheaper synthetic alternatives to silk.[7]

In 2009, after two years of wait, weaver associations in Uttar Pradesh, secured Geographical Indication (GI) rights for the Banaras Brocades and Sarees . GI is an intellectual property right, which identifies a good as originating in a certain region where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

As per the GI certificate, Banarasi products fall under four classes (23-26), namely silk brocades, textile goods, silk saree, dress material and silk embroidery. Most importantly this means that no sari or brocade made outside the six identified districts of Uttar Pradesh, that is Varanasi, Mirzapur, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts, can be legally sold under the name of Banaras sari and brocade.[6][8] Prior to this, in July 2007, nine organisations, Banaras Bunkar Samiti, Human Welfare Association (HWA), joint director industries (eastern zone), director of handlooms and textiles Uttar Pradesh Handloom Fabrics Marketing Cooperative Federation, Eastern UP Exporters Association (EUPEA), Banarasi Vastra Udyog Sangh, Banaras Hath Kargha Vikas Samiti and Adarsh Silk Bunkar Sahkari Samiti, had applied to the Chennai-based Geographical Indication Registry of Government of India, in a move that was supported by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) [9]

Varieties

Today there are four main varieties of Banarasi sari, which includes pure silk (Katan), Organza (Kora) with Zari and silk; Georgette, and Shattir, and according to design process, they are divided into categories like, Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tissue and Butidar

Environment concern

Since a large number silk dyeing units in the trade, use chemical dyes, which cause pollution in the Ganges River, a move is on to shift to natural dyes. Research team from the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (IT-BHU) used the technique of solvent extraction and enzymatic extraction to developed natural colours from plants, flowers and fruits including accaccia, butia (palash), madder, marigold and pomegranate (anar) [10]

Modern usage

The age-old magic of a Banarasi sari has now been recreated on a new platform. In a makeover design, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, decided the welcoming staff at the group s Luxury Hotels would be draped in the rich colours and designs of the Banarasi six yards.

See also

  • Silk in the Indian subcontinent
  • Zari

References

Further reading

  • Banaras brocades, by Anand Krishna, Vijay Krishna, All India Handicrafts Board. Ed. Ajit Mookerjee. Crafts Museum, 1966.

External links

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