The Indian wonder, one that has been ruling large the realms of interest from times of mythology to one spanning present day fashion, sarees can be a different type of enigma. Diversically different from any other dress, whether it be in look, in design or in appeal, sarees have long been lauded as the definer of the true Indian women. And indeed in its versatility, the multiple yard wonder does conjure up images of dainty ladies and upbeat women, traditional style and fusion fashion with equal panache. No wonder then with such a diverse category of doe eyed fashionistas forever in awe of the flowing encompassment of wonder to uater to, the saree has taken differentus. And one among the most exquisite types of sarees has to be the Banarasi ones which are undoubtedly a class apart in their own right!
Banarasi sarees in essence
No second guesses on what primarily Banarasi sarees are- quite evidently they are the types of the most definitive Indian dress from the spiritual land of Varanasi. However it isn’t just the region of origin that makes Banarasi sarees well, Banarasi.
Easily among the finest of sarees you will ever come across, banarasis are characterised by designs such as intricate intertwining floral and foliate motifs that hold essence in the Mughal styles from where this type originated. Other adorning motifs include kalga and bel, a string of upright leaves called jhallar at the outer edge of border that make Banarasi sarees very predominantly unique. Generally featuring extensive designs and patterns on the most exquisite variety of silk, Banarasi sarees make for the best wedding trousseau of Indian brides apart from also finding commonplace favour. Noted most for their extravagance in design, their lustre in fabric and their super glossy look, banarasi sarees make for one of the must haves in the wardrobe of every fashion fanatic.
Types of Banarasi Sarees
With their extensive influence that the many diverse motifs, patterns, designs as well as fabrics that Banarasi sarees encompass, they have come to be classified into different types. This classification not only delineates the Banarasis into different types, they also make it convenient to sort the picks according to occasion, functionabilty and of course style.
Accordingly, the fabric used has led to the creation of four distinct categories of these sarees namely Katan, Shattir, Organza (Kora) and Georgette.
Furthermore as per design the classification finds expression in types like Jangla, Tanchoi, Cutwork, Tissue and Butidar.
A type of silk that is as durable as it is lustrous, katan makes up the most extravagant Banarasi sarees and therefore makes the cut as primarily a celebratory wear. A plain fabric woven with pure silk threads twisted and further woven seamlessly, katan makes for sturdy sarees that maintain their durability for a longer times.
Apart from the longevity, katan banarasi sarees are also remarkable for their exquisite lustre and sheen owing to them being primarily silk sarees. Banarasi sarees tend to be ubiquitously recognised as silk sarees and it is the silk variety of katan that makes up these really glamorous sarees that are most worn on weddings and other such occasions.
Perhaps making Banarasi sarees more integrated into mainstream everyday fashion is its shattir types that happen to be comparatively lightweight and simplistic than the katan ones. The fabric that makes for contemporary designs of these sarees, Shattirs happen also to be cost effective, thereby making them more affordable for all. Exclusive and modern, the sattir sarees are remarkable in their lighter manifestation in both fabric and design that make them suitable for regular use.
Organza (Kora) With Zari and silk
Another of the types of Banarasi silk sarees are the ones that come in the organza or kora variety of fabric. Featuring extensive zari work that comes in predominant shades of gold and silver, this variant easily stands out both for the richness of the look as well as the considerable impact of the material. It isn’t however essentially the fabric that makes this variety of the Banarasis heavy, in fact it is the rich embroidery and many intricate designs craftily embed that make these pick a really weighted ensemble. The kora sarees almost always feature a prominent border irrespective of the body of work it tends to encompass. Smooth, soft and shiny, the banarasis that come in organza fabric with zari and silk make for quite the perfect pick to shine away in!
Georgette is one of the lightest materials that however make for extremely gorgeous sarees that come also with a flair of their own. The georgette types are easily among the most distinctive of Banarasi sarees because they are essentially of a comparatively lighter fabric than what characterise most traditional drapes in the category. Made of crepe yarn, the fine georgette fabric makes these banarasi sarees quite a delight to don in their contemporary and lush yet comfortable appeal.
As far as design classification of Banarasi sarees are concerned, the Jangla is perhaps the most distinguishable type. Believed to be one of the earliest existing specimen of design of Banarasis, Jangla sarees come woven with colorful silk threads and feature expansive designs. Intricate Jangala patterns depicting Jangla vegetation motif characterises the entire expanse of the sarees that renders it a really unique dimension. The heavy and highly intricate weaving on the luxurious fabric that generally is devoid of any gold or zari work is very characteristic of the janglas.
Jangla refers to the allover jaal that has been woven densely in a full kadhua weave in its characteristic motifs. With intricately patterened border and pallu and also additional meena work meena decoration even as the dense interlace pattern already does up the saree to a different level altogether, janglas therefore are ideal for making quirky statements at weddings that count high on the exotic quotient as well as on the extravagance.
Like janglas, the shikargarh types of Banarasi sarees are also those that display motifs that derive from and dwell in the many elements of nature. But while the jangla sarees come with floral and jungle patterns on them, the shikargarh ones quite aptly have hunting scenes and animal motif depictions along their body. Also distinguishing the shikangarhs is the work of zari at play specially along the border and across the pallu. In their intricate envisioning, shikargarhs are not just sarees but manifestations of art in itself.
Made by weaving patterns with colorful weft silk yarns, tanchois are a type of brocade that however does not feature any zari work. Intricately woven Jamawar style paisleys that often elaborate into a maze characterise these types of the Banarasi sarees that tend to be as lightweight to carry as they are delicate to the look.
Tanchois also can feature not just multicolored patterns but also such motifs that incorporate a range of tone of tone colors. Because the jamawar is completely stitched into the fabric, the aesthetic created is one of a silk embossed finish, that which is both more lustrous and carries of the perfect look.
The borders of these sarees generally come plain or in criss cross patterns to perfectly complement the extensive and complex work featured alongside. Essentially a silk saree and now available also with zari featuring, tanchois make for great partywear both because of the look and also their soft texture and lightweight characteristics.
Cut Work Saree
As the name suggests these types of Banarasi sarees are made with the cut work technique on plain textured fabric after removal of its floated thread. With a pattern that is made to run from selvage to selvage that is allowed to hang loosely between the motifs before the extra thread is cut off, the cut work banarasis are very often touted to be the cheaper version of the Jamdani sarees. Made by placing a certain number of warp threads with cotton and regular weft to produce intricate traditional designs, cut work sarees generally feature motifs like marigold and jasmine flowers, creepers and leaves.
Among the more glamorous of the banarasis are the tissue sarees that predominantly come with golden zari weft. Also called the golden cloth because of its extensive feature of gold zari work, tissue banarasis very aptly and also very visibly make for exclusive wedding fare. The lustre and shine of these sarees attribute that particularly celebratory feel to them with delicate and brilliant motifs like golde zari woven lotus floating in a glittering poind with the cut work technique also incorporated to design the water drops.
With zari in the weft, silk in the warp and both zari and silk in the extra weft, tissues understandably are shine out pieces of elegance both in the essence as well as in their look. Apart from the glimmering fabric and the eye catching motifs, the tissue banarasi sarees also feature a diaper of diamond patterns enclosed by a border of running paisley motifs along the borders and the end panel.
A very richly woven Banarasi that has brocades of gold, silver and silk running all through makes up the butidar sarees. Because of the gold brocading being a significantly darker shade than the silver ones, this variety is also famous as the Ganga- Jamuna. Various traditional patterns and motifs do up this extravagant piece of art that which features designs like the Angoor Bail, Gojar Bail, Luttar Bail, Khulta bail, Baluchar bail, Mehrab bail, Doller butti,Ashraffi Butti, Latiffa Butti, Reshem Butti Jhummar Butti,Jhari Butta, Kalma Butti,Patti Butti, Lichhi Butti, Latiffa Butta, Kairy Kalanga Thakka Anchal, Mehrab Anchal, Baluchar Butta etc.
Among the most popular and distinctive among all the types of Banarasi sarees, Butidars are also known as the amru brocade sarees and come designed with various floral motifs which in fact lend it its Butidar name. Originally conceived as a cheaper interpretation of the more expensive khinkhwab, the butidari happens to be a pure silk interpretation of the Banarasi sarees without any zari work characterising it.
The Jamdanis happen to be more of an interpretation of the Banarasi sarees instead of being one among the many types of it. Originally known as Dhakai Sarees, Jamdani Banarasis encompass a distinctive variety of silk that is brocaded with cotton and rarely with zari threads. Featuring pretty floral motifs that are laid down by hands by artisans who employ the non- structural weft method of weaving, these intricately patterned sarees exhibits motifs like jasmine, marigolds, leaves, emeralds etc.
Banarasi Silk Shalu
Another interpretation of the Banarasi sarees are the shalu silk sarees that stands out because of its very fine silk. Motif embedded borders, extensively designed pallus, zari work characterise these yard delights that are very prominent in traditional Maharashtrian weddings.