The Nine Different Weaves Of Benaras
Explained By Roliana
From the royalty draping benarasi textiles that added richness to their grandeur, to being a famed handloom textile and bit by bit regaining its due place among the treasured textiles of women of today. The exquisite form of benarasi sarees make them one of the most breathtaking works of art and finest craftsmanship that the weavers have to offer.
The exceptional craftsmanship required to weave this silk, was brought in by the Mughals who made significant efforts to elevate the art of weaving and designing that led to many weavers taking to silk as their profession. It was only when the sarees were finished that the realization took hold-of the beauty of the textile that was delicately an intricately handwoven, and it dawned on them that these weren’t just weavers but artists and the textiles were cherished heirloom pieces. The Banarasi sarees were originally embellished with threads made from real gold and silver for the royal family. For them to be affordable nowadays for everyone, the threads have been replaced with the finest quality of gold and silver zari.
The Mughal Empire’s influence can be strongly seen in the Banarasi silk we drape today with the Persian motifs that were often mixed in. The unparalled skills of the weavers bought Kaashi on the map as the textile capital of the region.
This Navratri, 2022, we bring to you 9 Weaves of Benaras-
Tanchoi is one of the most intricate weaving technique using one or two warp threads and multiple colored wefts. 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.
The Jangla technique is characterized by heavy and intricate weaving, with vegetation motifs. It is amongst the oldest techniques practiced in Varanasi. In this technique, threads are attached to the top of the loom, with their corresponding ends attached to the warp (bana). The body of the saree will typically have lots of creepers called ‘bel’, with flowers and birds, attached to them. It is representative of a wild jungle scene. A traditional, expensive jangla saree’s pattern is woven with pure gold and silver threads or ‘zari’.
Meenakari work is artistic traditional work using one or more colours of Resham threads. This weave dates back to hundreds of years of weaving customs and numerous hours of fine craftsmanship, creating an heirloom textile to pass down through generations, hand-woven with love, in Benaras. Meenakari is a very flexible way of weaving and looks just as stunning on any and every fabric.
Essentially a khinkhwab style of brocade traditionally woven with large monastic and mythical motifs and European florals, we at Roliana, weave beautiful gyasar heirloom pieces by twisting gold zari threads as a single twine on a georgette, tussar georgette, net, or katan silk fabrics to maintain the richness and royalty of the weave and ensuring the fabric flows with you as you carry it, all year round.
Shikargah does not refer to a style of weaving, but rather a type of weaving, where the fabric depicts hunting scenes. The roots of the Shikargah design seem to trace back to Persia where the weavers are believed to have migrated from and the areas further north, to India, and specifically Banaras. These weavers brought along with them the new vocabulary of motifs as well as their unique style which incorporated floral and animal images that creates sarees with a distinctive appearance. With the resurgence of handloom, the Shikargah has become a proud choice for women across the country.
A must have for every heirloom, the Rangkaat i a crossover of yarns with colours blocking in stripes- the highest order of Kadhiyal weaving from Benaras. The surface is often embellished with floral or geometric bootis. The Rangkaat is truly a connoisseur’s saree, for its intricate and delicate craftsmanship- a jewel that takes as close to nine months to weave.
This age old weaving technique is used to create affine fabric that has a mesh like structure and does not crumple easily. 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.
Similar to fine needle point work, Ektara was known as the fabric of royalty.
Kadiyal or Korvai is an ancient three shuttle weaving technique 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 benarasi language
Apart from Benaras, it is used in many handloom clusters of India like Kanchipuram, Paithani, Gadwal, etc.
One of the most sophisticated and intricate handloom weave of Benaras
Kadhwa is created with extra wefts on top of the base wrap fabric using resham or zari wound around to leave no loose threads on the back of the fabric. It resembles an embroidery- like technique, intricately woven on a loom, where each piece takes about 50-60 days to complete the finishing.
Truly a collector’s delight, the intricacy of the work speaks for the excellent craftsmanship it took to weave the Kadhwa textile.
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