Banaras, nestled on the Ghats of Ganges, is the land of Saints, Vedas and Fine Textiles. Best known for its exquisite weaves, Banaras is one of the seven Holy Cities, Myths and hymns speak of the waters of the Ganges River as the fluid medium of Shiva’s divine essence. The place is believed to have flourished as a textile centre, Zari and Brocade textiles are a speciality of the city. Banaras houses some of the best master craftsmen who weave magic with threads and create heirlooms that last for a lifetime. Brocade, a speciality of Banaras, is a characteristic weave in which intricate patterns are created on silk with Zari (Gold & Silver) threads.
The Weavers of Banaras use various weaving techniques such as Jamdani, Jangla, Tanchoi, Tissue & Cutwork.
Jamdani weaving is done on pit looms. Jamdani sarees usually use cotton and sometimes silk yarn. In this technique, the patterning is done with thicker threads, on a light, transparent fabric. The designs are inlaid by hand, without any mechanism. Usually the base of is undyed cotton yarn with designs woven in a variety of dyed threads. The extra weft technique is used to give a special effect to the motifs. Traditional motifs of the Jamdani include- Floral motifs, Fruits and Leaf motifs. These are accentuated by creepers and paisleys, spread over the width.
The Jangla technique is characterised by heavy and intricate weaving. It is the oldest techniques practised in Varanasi. In this technique, threads are attached to the top of the loom, with their corresponding ends attached to the warp. A traditional, expensive jangla pattern is woven with pure gold and silver threads or zari.
Tanchoi is a sub-set of Brocade and it requires only silk yarn as raw material. Refers to a pattern which covers the field or the body. It is done by weaving a single or double warp and a variety of colors on the weft, on silk fabric. Its motifs involve flying birds, baskets containing flowers, peacocks, hunting scenes, parrots and a variety of flowers. Tanchoi is heavy use of zari.
Tissue is the technique of making the entire cloth translucent and golden. This is done by laying silk and gold threads across the entire body, in both warp and weft. Gold or silken threads form the brocaded patterns laid over this base. This technique is most popularly used for weaving veils.
Cutwork technique is actually a simplified form of jamdani in which the pattern is not spread out but runs from edge to edge. Hence loose ends which do not form a part of the design are left floating and are cut after.
Brocade is a speciality of Banarasi fabric. It is a characteristic weave in which patterns are created by Zari threads .There are different types of pattern in Banarasi fabric like Jangla, Minakari & Buti. The Jangla technique is characterised by heavy and intricate weaving. It is amongst the oldest techniques practiced in Varanasi. The patterns which are weaved entirely with gold & silver silk thread are called Minakari patterns. Buti by its name mean scattered flowers, leaves, birds, paisley motifs, circles from Mughal times. In regular weaving the weft thread passes over and under the warp thread regularly. But when brocade designs in gold, silver silk or cotton threads are to be woven, special threads are transfixed in between by skipping the passage of the regular weft over a certain number of warp threads and by regularizing the skipping by means of pre-arranged heddles for each type of patterning. There may be several sets of heddles so arranged that on different occasions, they raise and depress irregular number of threads in turn, as required by the exigencies of the pattern. Zari-brocades When gold and silver threads are use along with or without silk-threads, thrust either as special weft or warp to create glittering raised. We have the Zari brocade kind of fabrics. When we talk of gold or silver threads. It is to be under stood that the gold, threads are actually only silver threads with gold polish and that these threads are obtained by closely winding extremely fine gold or silver wire around a silk thread. The Banarasi fabric are among the finest fabric in India and are known for their opulent embroidery. The fabrics are made of finely woven silk and are decorated with intricate design.