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How many of you have loved watching Bengali weddings on-screen and off-screen? Of course we all have. We can’t take our eyes off the wedding sequence. Especially when the bride enters the wedding scene with her visage beautifully blanketed with paan-pata? Well apart from the uniqueness of the rituals what strikes one is the generously embroidered Banarasi saree from Banaras, that culminates into a mesmerizing drape and embraces the bride!
Banaras that is much acclaimed as the holy city wears myriad feathers of pride. The most dazzling of which is it’s weaves and embroideries. The wide canvas of weaves and the skills of the karigaar (artisans) are unparalleled in any other city in the country. It is believed that the art and craft of silk weaving in Banaras was influenced and disseminated through the traders and weavers in Gujarat in the eighteenth century. By the nineteenth century the city rose to fame as the pinnacle of patterned silk weaving in the subcontinent.
Brocades and Jamdani technique is what escalates the popularity of Banarasi handloom industry. Jamdani designs are usually made with cotton and are hand embroidered. In Jamdani, cutwork motifs are produced with bulky weft threads on a lighter ground fabric. The brocades are composed of silk and are weaved with or without zari. Tanchoi is known to be the sub-category of brocade and uses only silk yarn. There is something called the Jangla technique which is faster to weave and its weft threads are suspended at the back of the fabric and later snapped off manually.
The most important weaving centres are:
- Bajardiha for its Jangla and Kaduwa technique
- Cholapur for its Jamdani weave
- Kotwa a hub of Jangla and Kaduwa technique
- Lohta for its Kuduwa work
- Pili Kothi reputed for its Tanchoi, Jangla and Kaduwa and also played an inspiration for Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s ode to Benarasi weaves
- Ram nagar primarily known for its cutwork
Make in India and Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) brought alive on the podium the fine craftsmanship and the majestic marvel of Banarasi weaves from the ancient city in ITC Grand Central, Parel. Titled as ‘Born in Benaras’, the grand finale of the Amazon India Fashion Spring-Summer Week 2015 witnessed the mastery of sixteen designers including Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna, Namrata Joshipura, Ashish N soni, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Abhishek Gupta, Gauri and Nainika, Alpana and Neeraj, Abraham and Thakore, JJ Vallaya, Anupamaa Dayal, ATSU, Manish Arora, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Tarun Tahiliani. In a sincere endeavour to focus on the weaving and embroidery technique of Banaras that opulently uses the colour palette of red, green, gold, black and blue on Banarasi brocade long jackets, A-line skirts, Boho chic resort wear, culottes with pantsuit by Rajesh Pratap Singh, jute-brocade skirts by Abraham & Thakore, Moroccan kaftans, Japanese kimono, Parisian cocktail dresses with off shoulders, saris, sherwanis and lehengas that juxtaposed on the old world charm of Banaras through contemporary interpretations. Sabyasachi, the master designer from Kolkata lent a superlative ambience with his style of green sari and lehenga whereas Tarun Tahiliani brought innovation on stage with floor-length jacket lehengas. Hindustani Classical Music played in the background as marigold flowers, mogras and earthen lamps concocted the ambience of the old city.
So my fashionistas let the decadent Banarasi weaves find space in your closet. May you stay forever ethnic in style!
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