Textiles and Fabrics of India: Banarasi Saree
Shobitam is proud to present to you, a new series titled, “Textiles and Fabrics of India”! Through this, we hope to embark on a journey with our patrons- one where we explore the history and evolution of unique textiles and fabrics from across India- together. Each week, we bring to you a new fabric and examine the attributes and characteristics that make it truly unique. We also try to peek into the rich history behind the development and mainstream growth of the weave.
Shobitam envisions this series as a generator of disruptive discourse in the traditional textile space in India and beyond. We pay homage to the heritage of these fabrics while also casting them into the limelight, hoping to expose them to a broader audience from across the world.
At Shobitam, we strive to remain true to the authenticity and individuality of fabrics, both in our product catalog and in our blog! The textile for the week is The Banarasi Saree!
Banarasi Sarees: A Brief History
Varanasi, or Benares, as it is also called, is one of the most ancient cities in the world. It has endured the test of time and is uniquely distinguished by its rich heritage and cultural significance. Throughout the annals of history, Benares has established a lasting legacy by yielding many noteworthy derivatives of cultural and historic importance. Of these, an enduring sentinel is the famous Banarasi Saree. This style of making sarees was popularized during the Mughal period in India, when the use of silk cloth became relatively widespread due to the goods imported by the Mughals from China. Consequently, Banarasi sarees heavily feature a combination of Islamic Mughal as well as Hindu influences in their design. Owing to their massive popularity and demand, the issue of rampant forgery of Banarasi sarees in automated mass-production mills arose.
Today, only traditionally handcrafted sarees from 6 districts in and around Benares retail as authentic Banarasi sarees. Our customers can rest assured knowing that all products of this variety in the Shobitam catalog are genuine and authentic.
The Various Varieties of Banarasi Sarees:
Banarasi sarees can vary depending on the fabric used to make them and the designs that they feature. Based on the fabric used for weaving, Banarasi sarees may be divided into 4 main categories:
These sarees are made from silk fabric of the Georgette variety. The cloth is delicate and finely woven from highly intertwined threads and strands of pure silk. These sarees have a smooth and slightly sheer texture, and are great sarees for parties, wedding receptions, or any such grand occasions!
- Banarasi Tussars
Banarasi sarees made from the Tussar fabric tend to be comparatively lightweight, easy-to-drape, and are preferred to be worn over heavier fabrics during casual events and occasions. These sarees have a matte texture, and are very comfortable.
- Organza and Kora Silk
The Organza and Kora silk are richly woven fabrics, featuring intricate brocade work, pretty prints, or Zari Buttas. These sarees have dense designs and have a sheer quality with a buttery smooth texture that sets them apart from other silks.
This is the premium fabric used to make Banarasi sarees and is made from pure silk. Other materials are not incorporated into the fabric and sarees made from Katan are extremely soft and lustrous. Banarasi Katan Silks usually feature stunning color contrasts and Zari work that makes them special.
Banarasi sarees may also differ depending on the designs that they feature! Their 5 main types are:
“Jangal” literally translates to ‘forest’ in Hindi/Urdu and it takes no genius to guess why this saree is called so. It features symbols from the forest across its body. Intricate designs depicting floral vegetation adorn this saree. These dense designs add weight and make them the ideal choice to wear for weddings and similar occasions.
Banarasi sarees of the Tanchoi variety prominently display Mughal influence in their design. They feature detailed floral motifs, paisleys, or floral vines which are woven in colorful threads woven using 3 different colored yarns. While different from the Jangal in their design, Tanchoi sarees tend to be similarly dense and heavy and are also a wedding attire favorite!
The Tissue sarees represent the perfect confluence of Mughal and Pre-Mughal influences in their design! Tissue sarees are one of the most delicate and sheer fabrics, and are so named because they are woven with extremely fine yarns of silk threads that give the fabric an appearance of a tissue paper.
- Zari Buttas
The sarees with Zari Buttas feature prominent and arresting zari threads across the body that adds to the grandeur of the Banarasi saree. The Zari Buttas are woven in either gold or silver Zari and is perfect for weddings or festive occasions!
Phew! Banarasi sarees offer a spectrum of design patterns and fabrics to choose from. It takes a veteran to discern among the numerous varieties of the Banarasi saree, but not one to appreciate the breadth and beauty in them all!
They headline wardrobes for elaborate traditional occasions and offer versatile usability- wear them at casual festivities, weddings, and parties alike! Shobitam is proud to present an extensive collection of Banarasi sarees in its catalog. Explore a wide range of designs and fabrics with the assurance of getting genuinely authentic products of the highest quality.
From the convenience of your home, choose the one you fancy most and flaunt the Banarasi saree at you next traditional festivity!
- Team Shobitam