Textile Trails - The Banarasi Weaving Techniques

Weaves or Weaving techniques from Banaras


Ektara or Ek Taar is similar to the sophisticated needle point work. This age old weaving technique is used to create affine fabric that has a mesh like structure and does not crumple easily. Ektara was known as the fabric of royalty. It is created by using a multi warp heddle shaft or Gethua loom and five treadle or Paanch Kaadhi technique in a traditional pit loom. Ektara is one of the finest weaves from banaras and is often seen in real zari and rangkaat sarees in addition to others


Kadiyal or Korvai is an ancient three shuttle weaving technique. This technique is used to create contrasting borders in a saree. The three shuttles are used for creating the upper and lower border of the saree and the body. The borders are joined with the body of the saree in an interlocking technique and this interlocking is called Kadhiyal in the local banarasi language. Apart from Banaras it is used in many handloom clusters of India like Kanchipuram, Paithani, Gadwal.

 Kadhwa/Kadhua/Kadha Hua

Kadhwa stands for “kadha hua” or “embroidered”.

In Kadhwa weaving, each motif is woven separately as opposed to other Banarasi techniques. Often two weavers weave a kadhwa saree. One weaver is engaged in weaving the cloth or the body of the saree and the second helps in carving out or embroidering each motif using a woodel spool or Tilli as it’s called in Banaras. Using this technique, many different motifs of different sizes, colours and textures can be woven on the same sari, which is quite difficult to do otherwise. A kadhwa saree typically will take a minimum of 12-14 days to complete and go up to 8-9 months also depending on the intricacy of the design. The back side of a kadhwa saree is clean and has almost negligible or zero float or lose threads.

Phekwa or Cutwork

Phekwa is weaving style from banaras, where the weft yarn is interlaced in the warp from one end to the other creating textures on the surface of the cloth also called the zamin. This can be done with single silk yarn or resham or zari, or both can be wound around shuttles.

This is one of the most widely used banarasi handloom weaving technique where the motifs are woven together as oppossed to kadhwa saress, thus taking lesser time in completing a saree. This weaving style leaves large proportion of the silk or zari thread at the back of the saree where there is no motif at the front. These threads at the back are then cut, once the saree is complete. Mostly the ladies of the house help in cutting and cleaning this extra float


Tanchoi is one of the most intricate weaving technique using one or two warp threads and multiple colored wefts. The technique is called extra weft and the famous motifs that are created using this technique are florals, geometrics or animal motifs. Tanchoi sarees are generally made in small and complex patterns resulting in a very soft fabric with no cutting work required at the back.

Tanchois are a very fine weave banarasi sarees that use an extra weft thread to create delicate patterns.  It is believed that this art originated in China and was brought to India by three Chinese brothers with the last name ‘choi.’  Thus, the technique came to be known as ‘Tanchoi’, which literally means ‘three chois’ (tan – three, Choi – brothers). 


Meenakari sarees are made using different colors of silk or zari threads in weft resulting in multiple colored motifs. Meenakari sarees can be made using both the cutwork and kadhwa technique of weaving. The Meenakari technique used in weaving is very similar to the enameling technique used in jewelry to create intricate patterns. Banaras has the expertise to use up to 20 plus colors to create a saree. This ability to introduce multiple colors is only possible on a handloom and cannot be replicated on a power loom