The Banarasi Saree

The Banarasi Saree

The Banarasi Saree

-By Shambhavi

The Banarasi saree is a saree we all have heard about. The sari is made of silk in the city of Varanasi and is are known for it's gold and silver embroidery work.

The saree’s existence was first recorded in the nineteenth century. During the Gujrat famine in the 1600s, many weavers moved to Varanasi and began producing the famed garments. They perfected their craft around the 18th and 19th centuries. The handloom weavers are part of a cottage industry involving all members of the silk handloom industry of the region.

The sarees are made of finely hand-woven silk and have opulent zari or brocade embroidery. These have an intricate design and are quite heavy. There are many different varieties of silk saree, they can be made in organza, Georgette, pure silk, etc. The sarees are another specimen of Indo-Mughal artwork. They are embroidered with unique floral designs and Persian motifs. These sarees are six yards of complex patterns woven into the fine silk garment. They can take to upwards of fifteen days to weave and embroider and this lends to its expensive price tag. Each saree requires three artisans to work on it, the first weaves the silk, the second has to dye and the third engages the bundle of silk.

The sarees are a staple of Indian bridal wear. The ethnic and traditional brides wear these throughout the country and they feature heavily in a bride’s trousseau. The saree is especially famous in Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The Banarasi saree is part of every Indian women’s wardrobe. They are worn throughout the country during celebrations and events. These creations are meant to complement the traditional Indian jewelry to create a vision of a quintessential Indian woman.

The craft, today, is a dying art with the rapid industrialization of the Handloom industry. The weavers of Banaras are under heavy pressure and debt, with many putting aside this traditional art form for so-called more profitable jobs. It was only in 2009 that an association in Banaras filed a copyright claim on Banarasi brocade and sarees. This has given the saree a whole new platform and the weavers some job security. Many designers are also utilizing this art form in their collections and popularising the craft. With Bollywood celebrities and designers creating and showcasing their love for the Banarasi garment, the saree has experienced a comeback of sorts. This saree has become a must-have wardrobe essential.