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There is something magical about the richly and intricately woven saree from the holy city of Varanasi or Banaras. Maybe it is the rich history and culture that comes with the Banarasi saree or the oozing regality of its motifs and designs, but whatever it is, the silk’s place in the fashion industry is undeniable. From Jaya Bachchan, wearing elegant white Banarasi saree for the recent Ambani wedding, to the Intricate and regal red Banarasi saree worn by Anushka Sharma during her reception in Delhi, celebrities have sported the famed silk on several occasions over the years.
If you are just as intrigued and mesmerized by Banarasi silk as we are, then here is everything you need to know about the famed silk saree.
Although some historians relate Banarasi silk to the described clothing of gods in many Puranas, this type of saree came into existence or instead received a boost in popularity during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Such was his fondness for the fabric that he did not limit its use to clothing and adorned his palace with Banarasi silk, be it carpets or curtains. His love for the silk inspired many Muslim weavers to start weaving in Banaras after finding the city suitable for their weaving culture. Therefore, most of the motifs in a Banarasi saree can be found to be Mughal inspired. Intricate intertwining floral and foliate motifs, kalga and bel, a string of leaves called the jhallar on the border is a characteristic of Banarasi sarees, making them stand out among the crowd of sarees.
A common misconception but let us clear it for you: Banarasi is not just a silk saree. It comes in four different fabric variants with the differing design process. Here is how they are categorized:
Here are the different fabric variants used to make sarees.
Katan is a plain silk fabric, woven with pure silk threads, that are later woven into sarees. Although looms are used today for weaving these sarees, in ancient times, they were handwoven using a handloom.
Shattir is the most abundant type of material used for Banarasi sarees. This is the sole fabric used to create exclusive and contemporary Banarasi saree designs under the name Banarasi.
You know them as intricately and richly woven Brocades, where the weft and warp pattern different patterns and designs. In this type of Banarasi Saree, gold-coated silver threads are woven around silk yarn to create the Zari Brocade.
A popular choice for contemporary Banarasi, Georgette is a finely woven light fabric with plain and simple weave.
Here are the different Design Process used to make sarees.
Believed to be the oldest of the Banaras brocades, Jangla sarees are woven in colorful silk threads. They get their name from the design patterns that distinguish from other types of Banarasi sarees- intricate Jangla vegetation motifs across the length of the saree. With unique designs and extreme detailing, this luxurious fabric is perfect for bridal Banarasi saree.
Tanchoi, with its beautiful Jamawar style paisley woven pallus, is another excellent choice for wedding Banarasi sarees. Artisans create this type with colorful weft silk yarns, often adorning it with Zari paisleys or labyrinths with criss-cross patterns.
These are the less expensive versions of the above types and Jamdani silk sarees. Artisans mix cotton and silk and use cutwork technique on a plain textured fabric. Some of the popular motifs for cutwork Banarasi saree are jasmine, marigold flowers, creepers, and leaves.
Tissue Banarasi sarees have the most delicate look of them all. These delicately woven sarees have golden zari weft, adding a sheen to the saree. One of the popular designs in this type includes beautiful zari lotus and cutwork water droplets with self-woven paisleys on the borders.
Butidar sarees are the most popular and distinctive type of lot. They are woven with a combination of silver, gold, and silk threads, where gold is darker in the shade than silver. Due to this, this variety of brocade is referred to as Ganga-Jamuna by Banarasi weavers.
Banarasi is the new guinea pig to all fashionista’s crazy fashion experiments. As such, when it comes to finding a blouse for your saree, it can be a tough choice. Here are some blouse patterns you can check out:
These bring out the grandeur of your wedding Banarasi saree and the overall bridal look. Embroidered blouses come in a variety of patterns, ranging from extensive stonework on the sleeves and neckline to traditional motifs and artwork on the sleeves.
From Shilpa Shetty Kundra to Shanvi Shrivastava, celebrities have rocked their traditional Banarasi Sarees with the unconventional sleeveless blouses. Whether you are matching your red Banarasi saree or going for a contrast color, you can never go wrong with a simple sleeveless blouse. To get the look right, it is always to for plain material over designs.
The charm of a full-sleeved blouse never goes away. However, with a banarasi, especially in plain fabrics, the magic of these blouses are evident in the subtle class and regality the whole look exudes. Pair it with a kundan set and a low bun with flowers and you are all set to walk the red carpet with style. Not to mention, winter weddings!
If you prefer mix-and-match fashion, then go for a blouse that is either a lighter or completely different shade than your saree. A good example would be wearing a royal blue Banarasi with floral motifs with a bright pink blouse. Alternatively, you can wear that forest green saree with a blouse in sage green. However, make sure you choose a color that compliments your saree color.
Matching your sleeve border with your saree fall is one of the most popular blouse fashions, regardless of the type of saree. However, with a Banarasi, this look is one that can always be found in the vogue. The sleeve length of this blouse need not necessarily reach upto the elbow, you can always opt for bicep length and still rock this look.
Brocade blouses are perfect for the subtle party look with the simplicity and dainty vibes they give off, especially when paired with the exquisitely embroidered Banarasi. Whether you wearing a matching one or mix it up with contrasting shades, brocade blouses are a sure way to increase your style-o-meter.
Increasing scams can make it hard to spot an original Banarasi saree from fakes. However, a major indicator that can help you choose an authentic one is the heavy thread work on the reverse side of the saree. Keep in mind that this, too, can be manipulated by crafty men. Therefore, a sure indicator of an original is the Geographical Indication (GI) tag found on them, meant to protect the artisans and buyers.
Your Banarasi silk saree needs a lot of maintenance on your part. Here are some tips to help you with the same:
● Leaving your Banarasi saree hanging on a hanger for a long time is a bad idea. They can crease permanently, and you do not want that.
● Storing your Banarasi in a muslin cloth is a great idea, it can protect the saree from moisture while allowing air in.
● Your saree would love some cozy dark corner (prevents discoloration) in your cupboard after you have wrapped muslin cloth around.
● When ironing your Banarasi cotton saree (or silk), make sure your heat settings are on low. Better yet, go for steam ironing.
● Keep water and perfume away from your Saree, for it will stain quickly. Make sure you don’t sprinkle water when ironing your saree. It is always better to consult a professional than trying to iron at home to reduce staining risk.
Finding an original Banarasi saree online is a tough task. One can easily be deceived. However, with the right store, this is something you do not have to worry about. Kreeva, with its experienced and talented craftsmen and extensive collection, is one of the best sellers of Banarasi silk saree online. The sheer variety of designs available in different materials like cotton will have you confused over choosing one.
That just about sums up everything you need to know about a Banarasi saree before your next shopping spree. From its origin to its extensively embroidered motifs, the silk saree screams royalty at just one glance. It comes with no surprise, therefore, the amount of popularity a Banarasi has been enjoying for centuries. When cared for in the right way and paired with the perfect blouse and accessories, an original Banarasi will make you look like the queen you are on some of the most important occasions in your life.
So, are you ready to rock your Banarasi saree look?