A Banarasi sari is a sari made in Varanasi, a city which is also called Benares or Banaras. The saris are among the finest saris in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery. The saris are made of finely woven silk and are decorated with intricate design and, because of these engravings, 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 saris.
Other features are gold work, compact weaving, figures with small details, metallic visual effects, pallus, jal (a net like pattern), and mina work.
The saris are often part of an Indian bride’s trousseau.
Depending on the intricacy of its designs and patterns, a sari can take from 15 days to a 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 jewellery.
During olden days, Banaras was 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, probably, 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.
The traditional Banarasi sari is done with lot of hard work and skilful work using the silk. The sari making is a cottage industry for about 12 lakh people associated directly or indirectly with the hand loom silk industry of the region around Varanasi encompassing Gorakhpur, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts.
As per the GI certificate, Banarasi products fall under four classes, 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.
Bari bazaar in Varanasi, India, is famous for banarasi silk sarees. It used to be known as the main handloom saree manufacturing area but times change and it has become fully powerloom sarees manufacturing area. In this particular area there are more than 10 localities served, and population is more than 1 million. In Bari bazaar, daily money transaction is probably 50 million rupee. Bari bazaar is famous for its unique design, that is why it is still in the forefront of the developed textile market (Surat, Mumbai, and Kolkata).
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
Since a large number of 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. A research team from the Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (IIT-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)
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