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Banarasi Weaves: Crafts Of The City Eternal

Older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend—and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”- Mark Twain on The city of Varanasi.

Banarasi Weaves 1

Synonymous with rich, heavily patterned fabrics and with its roots going as far back into time as the existence of Rigveda, the art of Banarasi weaving has come to stand as a sole unique unit in the textile industry. Unrivalled, when it comes to the rich heritage and intricate craftsmanship that it requires, the famous Banarasi weaves credit the volume and variety of its silk production, and the skills of its weavers, which has inevitably come to overshadow many older weaving centers.

Banarasi Weaves 2

In the ancient time Banaras was famous for the weaving of cotton saree and dress materials, but slowly switched over to silk weaving, during the Mughal period. Around the 14th century, weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold & Silver threads came to be known as the specialty of the city.

Banarasi Weaves 3

Exclusive varieties of the sarees are Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tishu, and Butidar which are made of silk warp and silk weft, usually on a plain ground base. The Tanchoi is a sub-category of the brocades, and uses only silk yarn. The Jamdani technique is based on designs inlaid by hand, without any mechanical assistance used. Banaras Jamdanis are mostly white on white. In the case of Jamdanis, the cut work motifs are produced with heavier weft threads on a light ground fabric while the motif threads hang loosely at the back of the fabric, and sometimes cut off after weaving. The standard warp lengths in Benaras are of 6 sarees, or approximately 42 meters. Similar to Jamdani weaving, Kaduwa weaving is executed wherein each motif is inlaid by hand, weft threads put on the smaller bobbin or sirki, which in turn is more amenable to producing.

Banarasi Weaves 4

A saree can take anywhere from 15 days to a one month and sometimes up to six months to complete, depending upon the intricacy of designs and patterns.

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