In this blog post I speak about Silk Banarasi saree, my favourite story on this timeless classic, ode to the Karigars, crisp speak on behind the scene & also the current situation of the artisans/weavers. I hope to raise a curiosity in you to look at Banarsi silk as a saree of the season. What say?
In my next visit to Banaras, apart from sitting on that rooftop café sipping on my green tea to stare at Ganga, lit up at night, I would also keep a whole day aside to spend with the Weavers of Banaras.
For the times of corona & restriction on travel, I used an opportunity to speak to Tanmay Agarwal from Banaras Kothi , who shared details about what goes on in making a saree that light up any occasion. He has been working in this industry since 2004 & has plethora of knowledge. Banarasi sarees is what he lives everyday, works with the karigars & brings it to the market. He spoke passionately about the craft & bringing this rich heritage to this modern world in his own unique way. It was a very interesting conversation & a topic very close to my heart. Saree, that too handloom & to top it all Banarasi.
Our conversation lead him in presenting to me the opulent weave story & my ode to the artisans/weavers-from the heart!
For the uninitiated, Banarasi saree hails from the mysterious city of Banaras / Kashi. To know more read this post till the end.
I speak a lot about conscious fashion, sustainable fashion. Imagine bringing heritage to today!There was a revolution few years ago where instagram posted pictures asking “who made my clothes”. Taking a cue, I would like to present my ode to the Karigars. The artists behind saree stories straight from Ganga Ghat.
Reigning my love for timeless classic
I remember looking up Uttam Kumar – Aparna Sen film pictures for a “Bengali-bride” reference for my make up & look. Wedding was about tradition for me. The pattern those days was getting a customised Lehenga for your most important day but I wanted everything to glisten in traditional fervor. From the mandap to the food layout to what I wore & my make up.
Here is when I will start talking about the most important saree of the entire wedding.
I chose the traditional Silk Banarasi, may be it was the Bengali in me who coudnt let go of her roots at that moment;). That day, I was this little girl with big dreams in her six yards of elegance.
Few more of banarasi sarees have been added to my closet since then, including my mother’s Purple & fuschia from her own wedding. I have even explored the extension on different fabrics.
I speak a lot about conscious fashion, sustainable fashion. Imagine bringing heritage to today!
There was a revolution few years ago where instagram posted pictures asking “who made my clothes”. Taking a cue, I would like to present my ode to the Karigars. The artists behind saree stories straight from Ganga Ghat.
Banrasi Story is methodical planning and meticulous workmanship
A family is completely invested in bringing the rich brocade work to us. The men, women & even the kids are coming together in bringing the fabric to life. The process of making a saree is long takes anywhere between 15 days to 3 months depending on the design.
Banarasi saree is typically a silk saree but these days the extensions are in offering. We have options in organza, cotton, georgette etc. However, I am going to focus on the original & classic one.
Made in Banaras & Kashi, production centre for handloom made silk sarees. One of the major Industry of UP, a state in the northern India. Currently we have approximately 1 lakh families dedicated to this industry. The sad part is that it is depleting. The families do not prefer their kids in their business for the doubt in their future. The doubt sadly also depicts the future of this craft & silk weave.
Inspite of regulation, there has been phenomenal growth of powerlooms, this poses as a major threat to handloom weavers.
May be authentic marketing is at a nascent stage to bring the weavers to a stage.
These are few reasons why the handloom weaving as an art is depleting. With e-tailing being at a rise, we may come across Banarasi sarees at cheaper rates, but this art is tedious & demands a lot of hardwork. It deserves its pay for talent.
I wish that this weave is showcased at much bigger place in a much bigger way.
Behind The scene – The making!!
The process of making a saree starts from conceptualising a design or a theme. Which is then copied on a paper to make a “naksha” to be formatted on a calibrated paper known as “graph”. The graph is punched on small cards called “patta”.
These “pattas” work as the language that the loom will understand and are the backbone for weaving.
Lets set it up on the loom, shall we?
Here comes the Wrap(Tani) & Weft(Bana)
Warp and wefth can be silk or a combination of different other fibres ( both natural & manmade).Natural silk fibre has to go through a process of DEGUMMING after which the yarn becomes soft and handy. This is best part. Colours! Dying process of wrap & weft includes dipping in desired colour & drying in in the field with ample natural sunlight.
Know little bit about the types?
Why choose a Banarasi this season?
- Woven intricately with hard work and utter concentration, this for sure brings out elegance and opulence
- The designs on these beautiful silk weaves have been inspired from the Mughals making them heavier and more exquisite.
- If maintained well, this can be one of the heirloom to be passed on to your next generations. You have heard about fashion repeating every few years right?
A fun fact:In olden days, Banarasi silk sarees were made only for royalty. Silver & gold were used for waeving. Btw, Ravana from Ramayana added a fashion icon touch by wearing only gold dhotis.
I will bring in some more stories from the weaves of India as this topic is very close to my heart. I love Sarees & various patterns that India has in offering. Till then, much love. Also, go check out Banaras Kothi on Instagram & check out some pretty sarees. DM them for your queries.