A Banarasi saree is a saree made in Varanasi, a city which is also called Benares or Banaras. The sarees are among the finest sarees in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery. The sarees are made of finely woven silk and are decorated with intricate design, and, because of these engravings, are relatively heavy.
Their special characteristics are Mughal inspired designs such as intricate intertwining floral and foliate motifs, kalga and bel, a string of upright leaves called jhallar at the outer, edge of border is a characteristic of these sarees. Other features are gold work, compact weaving, figures with small details, metallic visual effects, pallus, jal (a net like pattern), and mina work.
The sarees are often part of an Indian bride's trousseau.
Depending on the intricacy of its designs and patterns, a saree can take from 15 days to a month and sometimes up to six months to complete. Banarasi sarees are mostly worn by Indian women on important occasions such as when attending a wedding and are expected to be complemented by the woman's best jewelry.
Katan is a plain fabric with woven pure silk threads which are twisted and woven into pure silk sarees. These pure silk sarees are now produced using powerlooms and rapid looms, while in ancient times Katan sarees were woven using handlooms with a beautiful creation of patterns and motifs.
2. Organza (Kora) with Zari and silk
Brocades are most beautiful and richly woven fabric where the patterns are pattered with different designs made by warp and weft. Silver threads are coated with gold and are then woven closely around a silk yarn to create zari brocade.
It is a finely woven light fabric with a simple and plain weave. This fabric is made of crepe yarn where S twisted and Z twisted yarns are inter-woven with both warp and weft. This fabric is most popular in modern types are are used to produced designer sarees, Bollywood sarees and latest salwar kameez designs.
Shattir is another fabric which is used in creating exclusive and contemporary designs of Banaras sarees.
One can classify Banarasi sarees on the basis of different designs.
The 5 Different Designs
These styles of sarees are woven in colorful silk threads. The name of this sari derives from the pattern of design that distinguishes it from other Banarasi sarees. It has intricate Jangala patterns in form of Jangala vegetation motif that scrolls and spreads across the length of the sari. These sarees are believed to be ancient ones among Banaras brocades. Unique designs and intricate detailing with luxurious fabric make this sari apt for wedding ceremonies.
Beautiful ‘Jamawar’ style paisleys or Labyrinth woven by zari adds value to this silk sari making this appropriate for wedding ceremonies. Artisans from Banaras weave patterns on these sarees with colorful weft silk yarns. The pallu of this sari are often decorated with large motifs of paisleys while the border is beautified with criss-cross patterns.
3. Cut Work Saree
These sarees are commonly referred as the less expensive version of Jamdani sarees. This type of sarees is prepared by cut work technique on plain texture. Silk Jamdani sari is produced by placing few warp threads with cotton and weft to produce traditional design patterns. Most popular motifs which are featured in cut work sarees are jasmine, marigold flowers, creepers and leaves. Unique patterns of cut work sarees are created from selvage to selvage which resembles the design of Jamdani.
4. Tissue Sarees
Delicately woven sarees with golden zari weft adds sheen to these tissue sarees and therefore it is also known as the golden cloth. Most popular designs used in tissue sarees are golden zari woven lotus floating in a radiant pond, where the water drops are designed with cut-work technique. The border and pallu of the sari are patterned with self woven paisleys.
5. Butidar Sari
Inimitable feature of Butidar sarees is that it is a richly woven sari which is brocaded with threads of gold, silver and silk. Gold is darker in shade as compared to silver threads. Therefore the weavers of Banaras refer to this variety of brocade patterning as Ganga-Jamuna. Motifs are locally popularized as Angoor Bail, Ashraffi Butti, Latiffa Butti, Reshem Butti Jhummar Butti, Jhari Butta, Patti Butti, Baluchar Butta and many more.