Handloom Heritage - Pride of India

Image Courtesy: Jharonka

Nothing defines an Indian woman better than an elegant saree. The colorful fabric augments her beauty and enhances her charisma. A woman is always proud of her collection of sarees with an eternal yearning to have more. A saree is not just a 5-meter piece of fabric –it can be a prized possession or an emotional connection or a souvenir.

India is known for its handlooms. The history of handlooms in India goes back a long way. Every region in the country boasts of a distinct technique of handlooms. Handloom fabrics are handmade by skilled artisans and display finest designs and patterns on every piece which cannot be accomplished by industrial looms. Not only does a hand-woven fabric with its intricate designs magnify a woman’s elegance, but also feels comforting and soft on the skin. The richness and grace of a hand-woven fabric cannot be compared to a synthetic fabric.

Chanderi, Maheshwari, Paithani, Patola, Pochampalli, Kanjivaram are just a few from the long list of handloom sarees which adorn an Indian woman’s wardrobe. However, no collection is considered complete without the eminent Banarasi. With a centuries-old tradition of weaving finest fabrics, Banaras (Varanasi) is now known across the world for its silk sarees with gold and silver threads. Original Banarasi sarees have been favored by the royal women since time immemorial. The Mughals who were known for an extravagant taste in lifestyle prominently used Banarasi in their attire. They introduced the complex “Jali” pattern and Persian motifs in traditional Banarasi.

Image Courtesy: Jharonka

In spite of modern techniques and gadgets, original Banarasi sarees are primarily hand woven. They are distinguished by elaborate floral and leaf patterns mainly on the borders. Zari and brocades of silver or golden thread are also a characteristic of Banarasi saree. These sophisticated and detailed designs are woven on Katan(pure) silk, organza, Shattir or georgette fabric. Jangla, tanchoi, butidar, cut-work and tissue are traditional patterns found on an original Banarasi sarees. A hand-woven Banarasi saree can take about 10 days to 6 months to complete. In many Northern and Western parts of the country, a banarasi saree is an essential part of bridal wear.

The traditional Banarasi is now gracefully absorbing the current trends in fashion industry. The exotic floral-foliate motifs are being replaced by geographical patterns and other creative contemporary designs. Even the style in which Banarasi is worn is being experimented with. Instead of being used as sarees or women-wear only, the fabric is now used by renowned designers across the world to create dresses, scarves and suits.

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