A Banarasi saree is a saree made in Varanasi, a city which is also called Benares or Banaras. The sarees are among the finest sarees in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery. The sarees are made of finely woven silk and are decorated with intricate design and, because of these engravings, are relatively heavy. Banarasi Silk (also known as Benarasi SIlk) is a fine variant of Silk originating from the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India. Saree woven from this fine silk, known as a Banarasi Silk Saree is extremely popular all over India and across the world.
There are four categories of Banarasi saris – Kora (silk organza with zari work), Katan (pure silk), Georgette, and Shattir. And according to design experts these categories break down further into Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tissue, and Butidar.
Banarasi saris have roots in the Mughal era, 14th century C.E., where Varanasi was the center of brocade weaving. They still retain a lot of Mughal influence today, especially in the design motifs. Most Banarasi saris have vestiges of the intertwining floral and foliate motifs, called kalga and bel, common in Mughal craftwork. Zari and Brocade work that is the specialty of Banarasi sarees kick started around 17 th century when Silk weavers from Gujarat migrated to Kasi after a famine in 1603. Development of brocade and zari work in the city saw new heights during Mughal period, especially in the reign of emperors such as Akbar. Having witnessed centuries of handmade textile tradition, Banarasi silk sarees have seen many changes in preferences of colours, patterns, motifs, borders and styles over the years.
Banarasi sarees are a perfect amalgamation of Persian and Indian designs. Banarasi sarees are usually worn during weddings, festivals, and other such festivities because such sarees carry a lot of aura and the occasion to wear them should be important as well.