Legendary city walls, mythical narratives and ancient scriptures – this is the fabled city of Benaras in Uttar Pradesh. Words are limited to describe the enormity of the city’s past and present glory. This gracious temple-town also known as Varanasi is seated on the banks of the Ganges, with extended platforms known as ghats.
The Story of Banaras Weave, Grassroot by Anita Dongre
A cross-sectional view of the city exposes myriad of activities with streets filled with natives and tourists. The art and culture of Benaras is an enthralling story with hand weaving at the heart of it.
Many chapters have been written on historical textiles of mankind, none with an opulence of Benaras silk making this region an epicentre for cotton and silk traders from around the world. During the Mughal rule, King Akbar, patronized all artforms, taking textile art to its peak. As skilled weavers from Eastern parts of India moved to Benaras to be a part of its acclaimed richness, it created a synergy for innovation. This region saw an exploration of colours, motifs and yarns resulting in astounding drapes.
The soul of Benaras is the Brocade fabric – a complex pattern of supplementary weft over a standard setup. Previously this brocade fabric was woven in a drawloom that comprised of many tools and was painstaking to create the brocade effect. Essentially, this effect is a raised texture of pure zari over the base fabric.
With the intervention of technology in the textile industry, the brocade weaving shifted to jacquard looms. This type of loom has dotted templates used as a guideline by the weavers. The templates are designed by the master weaver in the pre-weaving stage. Every master engages skilled weavers to work on orders for a certain period. As the templates are patterned, the routine weaving is carried out on the loom. This distinct step-by-step process brought better management and thereby increasing the speed of output.
Primarily crafted for occasion-wear across all cultures, Benaras sarees are crafted with a delectable combination of silk, tissue and organza. The zari is interlaced to outline and create lustrous motifs throughout the main body. Each piece of textile is carefully engineered with an inspiration that embodies the grandeur of this ancient craft.
At the helm of a socially sustainable brand at Anita Dongre, we keep our efforts focussed on the revival of artisanal crafts of India. As we continue to support sustainability in fashion, we believe it’s a necessary tool to showcase our design and thought-process to our patrons. We bring you our line of luxurious hand-woven collection of saree sets, light-weight lehengas, suit sets, dresses, skirts, jackets and accessories – aspiring to make its way to a mindful wardrobe.