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Benarasi Saris of India

Benaras is the other name for Silk Saris

The Benarasi saris gained popularity during the Mughal era. During this period, all art was amalgamated to create a fusion of aesthetics. Persian motifs and Indian designs on silk studded with gold and silver remained the cue of Mughal patronage. Today these saris are being exported worldwide. There are mainly four varieties of Benarasi sari available today. They are pure silk (katan); organza (kora) with zari and silk; georgette, and shattir. The sari making is more of a cottage industry for several million people around Varanasi encompassing Gorakhpur and Azamgarh as well.


Most of the silk for the saris comes from South mainly Bangalore where sericulture is a unique industry. The weavers weave the basic texture of the sari on the power loom. In weaving the warp, they create the base, which runs into 24 to 26 meters. There are around 5600 thread wires with 45-inch width.

At the weaving loom, three people work. One weaves, the other works at the revolving ring to create lacchis (rolled bundles). At this juncture, another important process is initiated. This is designing the motifs. There are several traditional artists in Varanasi who, though not formally trained in designing, create wonderful designs for saris.

To create naksha patta (design boards) the artist first draws on graph paper with color concepts. Traditional designs remain the base appeal for Varanasi saris. Once the design in selected then small punch cards are created. These serve as guides for which color thread has to pass through which cards and at what stage. For one design, one requires hundreds of perforated cards to implement the concept. The prepared perforated cards are knitted with different threads and colors on the loom. Then, according to the design, they are paddled in a systematic manner so that the main weaving picks up the right colors and pattern.

A normal sari takes around 15 days to one month and sometimes six months to complete. However, it all depends on the intricacy of designs and patterns to be created on the sari.

Weaving Benarasi saris is a functional art of India, which has been going on for centuries within a great fabric of Indian traditional weavers.

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