Having been worn by royalty as a symbol of luxury and wealth, Banarasi Silk Sarees are known for their luxury and elegance. They are an important and much-loved part of Indian heritage.
These sarees are named after the city they are made in - Banaras. They are made in various fabrics like cotton, silk, organza, and georgette, to name a few. Banarasi sarees are an important part of an Indian bride's wardrobe. It is considered auspicious for a bride to wear a Banarasi saree for at least one of her numerous wedding functions.
However, the Banarasi saree is not limited to being worn just for weddings. It is considered a symbol of class as it is known to have descended from royalty.
Let us take a look at the saree that is considered to be the most luxurious in the world!
THE HISTORY BEHIND THE BANARASI
The history of Banarasi Silk Sarees is a long and rich one. The Banarasi fabric was initially mentioned in texts that were written in the 19th century. This, along with the fact that silk weavers from Gujarat migrated to the Banaras region in 1602, leads us to believe that silk brocade weaving began in Banaras in the 17th Century.
This was further helped by the influence of the Mughals, who were present in India during the 14th Century. They had brought with them the art of weaving brocades with intricate designs using gold and silver threads. This particular art went on to become the speciality of Banaras.
In fact, the Mughal Emperor Akbar was so fond of the fabric that he ordered his palace to be draped in it so that he could admire it better.
HOW IS IT MADE?
The process of making a Banaras saree is not one to be underestimated. It can take anywhere from a few days to almost six months to complete, depending on the complexity of the saree. The brocade of the saree is what takes the most time and determines the price of the saree. The more complex the design is, the longer it takes for it to be completed, and the more expensive it will be.
Making brocade is not an easy task. There are typically two yarns that are used in making a fabric - the regular warp and the weft yarns. When making a brocade, however, a third yarn is brought in with the help of a shuttle. It is used to make the designs that the Banarasi saree is so famed for.
The third yarn is typically Resham or Zari. The zari used in Banarasi Sarees is made of metallic yarns. Of course, these yarns can now be made synthetically. However, pure zari is made from copper yarns and gold and silver polish. Given that the materials used are so precious, sarees that use pure zari are much more expensive.
Usually, two types of brocades are made - Kadhua Banarasi Brocade and Fekuan Banarasi Brocade. Kadhua Brocade is a discontinuous brocade that is extremely difficult to weave as each motif is individually woven into the fabric. The Fekuan Banarasi Brocade is a continuous brocade where the motifs run from end to end.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF BANARASI SILK?
There are a great many variations of the Banarasi Silk Saree, and they can be divided into different categories depending on what the theme is.
In this classification of the Banarasi saree, we look at its designs and the type of event it is worn to. Let’s take a look at them and what their features are.
Jangla sarees are actually among the oldest categories of Banarasi sarees known. What differentiates these sarees from the other Banarasi sarees is that the Jangla are known for their Jangla vegetation motifs. These sarees are very colourful and are often used for weddings due to their bright and exquisite look.
These sarees can be identified by their zari borders and the unique criss-cross pattern they sport. These sarees are also quite colourful.
- Cut Work:
This type of Banarasi saree is by far the most affordable on this list. This is because these sarees combine cotton and silk fabrics. They take a plain, textured fabric and use a unique cutwork technique on it. These sarees are also known to contain popular floral motifs. This includes designs of jasmine, marigold flowers, creepers and even leaves.
As the name suggests, these sarees are the most lightweight and delicate sarees that are available. They can be worn for any occasion, including functions, wedding festivities, and religious festivities. They are now the most popular and preferred type of Banarasi saree due to their lightweight fabric and brightly coloured designs.
What makes this design unique is the combination of shades created by the gold and silver thread used in the design of the saree. The colour combination used in the saree is such that it causes the gold to look darker than the silver, which causes each saree to be quite unique in its own way. This special feature has led to this design also being known as Ganga-Jamuna by the Banarasi weavers.
The types listed above are based solely on the types of designs used in the making of the saree. There is a great deal of variety available in the Banarasi sarees. They are not only meant for extravagant occasions and are not limited to extremely formal wear; they are loved for their classy designs and their ability to adapt to every occasion!
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY BANARASI SAREE IS AUTHENTIC?
An authentic Banarasi saree is a priceless treasure and will serve you for a long time since it is designed to last. However, there have been several instances in which people have been duped into buying cheap imitations of these beauties and have been forced to pay what they would for an original product. This has been particularly rampant with the increasing popularity of online shopping.
Don’t let this stop you from buying your ideal Banarasi saree! This is all you should do to check if the saree you are wanting to buy is authentic - look at the reverse side of the saree! Floats are always present within the warp and weft grids of a Banarasi saree that is made on a loom. You don’t have to be an expert in sarees to be able to spot this.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
We hope that this blog has shown you the beauty of Banarasi sarees and their rich history. We also hope you appreciate the intricate and exquisite designs that are present on your sarees now that you know how they are made. Come and take a look at our own collection of Banarasi sarees, and expand your collection of the exquisite Banarasi!