Banarasi Silk Sarees: A History of Opulence and Elegance

Banarasi Silk Sarees are considered the most precious additions to a woman’s closet. These silk sarees are a pride of Indian culture and heritage. Every Banarasi saree is a visual tale of the traditions, values, and culture of India, carefully crafted thread by thread. Regardless of whether the pure silk saree is pulled out of your mother’s heirloom archives or bought after exploring a myriad of traditional silhouettes, a Banarasi saree is destined to make you look like a million dollars. The pure definition of grace, sophistication, and unrivalled beauty, a Banarasi saree is a must-have in your festive-favorite or wedding wardrobes.

WeaverStory takes pride in offering the finest designer sarees, exclusively brought to you from the holy land of Banaras. Each Banarasi silk saree at WeaverStory is a fascinating tale of the Indian heritage and weavers, reflected from the soft, lustrous fabric, brilliant craftsmanship, surreal designs and patterns, and intricacy of the zari work. While you can explore a plethora of authentic, exquisitely handcrafted Banarasi Silk Sarees on our website, it is important to know the rich history of the Banarasi handloom. This article is a historical tale of the Banarasi Silk Sarees you must know about.


The History of Banarasi Silk Sarees

Since the beginning of time, the religiously significant town of Banaras has been regarded as India's weaving center. Banarasi silk artworks have been mentioned in several religious scriptures, including the Rig Veda and the Mahabharata.

  • In the Rig Veda, Hiranya (the earliest equivalent of the Kimkhab brocades woven in a silken core with real gold and silver zari) was known as a peculiar cloth of gold adorned by gods themselves.
  • In the Mahabharata and Ramayana, these fabrics were known as Putambar Vastra or Hiranya Vastra.
  • The details regarding the weaving techniques were mentioned in the Jataka Tales and the Vedas.
  • Even in Pali literature, Kashi (Banaras) has been mentioned as a famous textile center.

Initially intended for royalty, the Banarasi handloom has a rich history that shows through its weaves. Banarasi Silk Sarees are renowned for their impeccable durability, fine craftsmanship, and brilliance in designs and patterns. Even though certain historians document a significant influence of Hindu motifs as well as Rajasthani paintings on the early brocades, it has been observed that somewhere during the 16th century, these initial designs came to an end. There are references in the history that indicate that weavers from Gujarat arrived in Banaras during the floods, fires, and famines of the 14th and 16th centuries. It is also believed that the Banarasi weaving industry began to use silk for brocades during this time.

During the 14th century in the Mughal era, the crafting of brocades with intricate designs and patterns using delicate gold and silver zari threads came into existence. Today, the Banarasi silk handlooms you see on the market are highly influenced by the Persians, Mughals, and Central Asians.

The extensive history of meticulously handcrafting a Banarasi masterpiece remains a classic that will be talked about for generations. However, it is the patterns, designs, and motifs featured in the silken artworks that please the eye. Let’s explore the making and features of Banarasi Silk Sarees in detail.

The Process of Weaving Banarasi Silk Sarees

  • The process of weaving a Banarasi silk saree typically takes between 3 and 30 days, which, however, is dependent on the complexity of the designs and patterns demanded.
  • Generally, three weavers must collaborate to create a saree such as this. The first weaver is the one that weaves the silk saree, the second weaver is the one who manages the revolving ring for creating bundles, and the last one helps with the border design.
  • Creating a Banarasi saree requires great teamwork and brilliance in craftsmanship, which only come with years of experience.
  • A Banarasi saree ought to feature approximately 5600 threads, each of which is 45 inches wide. These expert craftsmen create a base that is 24–26 inches long.
  • The motifs are designed starting with the bundling stage. At this point, an artist develops design boards by sketching the designs and color schemes on graph paper.
  • After this, punch cards are created before finalizing a design, followed by hundreds of perforated cards that can fit a single saree design.
  • Various colors as well as threads are employed for knitting the perforated cards on the loom.
  • The perforated cards are then paddled sequentially so that the primary weave grabs up the correct patterns and colors. This is how an extraordinary pure Banarasi saree is made.
  • There are various weaving techniques used to create Banarasi Silk Sarees, including Kadhwa, Cutwork, Kadhiyal, Meenakari, and Tanchoi.

Features Intricately Crafted on Banarasi Sarees

  • In terms of motifs and patterns, you will find Banarasi Silk Sarees adorning floral motifs and jaals inspired by the Mughal era.
  • Other than these, Banarasi heirlooms are known to be richly decorated with Shikargah motifs. Shikargah is not simply a single motif; instead, it is an exquisite display of a group of designs that depict hunting scenes with different kinds of animals in the forest as well as a human figure hunting.
  • Another excellent illustration is the Jaal design, which encircles a booti with a network of geometric or curvilinear designs.
  • Mughal-influenced patterns such as floral designs and leafy motifs referred to as kalga and bel, as well as outer border designs of upright leaves termed Jhallar, have evolved into classic Banarasi motifs often crafted to add elegance and opulence to the weave.
  • Paisley motifs (the symbol of fertility), Mangaai motifs (mango-shaped designs), and checks and striped patterns are a few other motifs and patterns you will typically find on a Banarasi silk saree.

We hope this article gave you a glimpse of the rich history of Banarasi Silk Sarees. These classic sarees are destined to make you look drop-dead gorgeous on any special occasion. Regardless of whether you are looking for a wedding banarasi saree or a classic-contemporary banarasi saree to wear at a sumptuous cocktail party, we’ve got you covered with every banarasi silk silhouette you would ever need. So, what are you waiting for? Explore our website and bring home the elegance of a Banarasi Silk Saree now!

Author: Simran Shaikh