Thursday, 7 August 2008

Benaras Brocades

Alipura is traditionally the district of Varansi, where the famous Benaras brocades are woven, brocades are textiles woven with warp and weft threads of different colors.

The Benaras brocades are woven in silk, with profuse use of metal threads on the 'pallaus' and the field of the sari.

The weavers are muslims, known as karigars. The brocades are woven in workshops known as karkhanas which are a series of interconnected rooms, usually on the first floor. Almost every square inch of ground space in the room is taken up with looms, and above each loom hangs a crowded arrangement of strings leading down to the loom heddles. the weavers work in artificial light, in a calm and quiet atmosphere which is conducive to the concentration needed for the weaving of such complicated designs.

The Zari thread known as kalabathun consists of finely drawn gold, silver or base metal thread, wound round a silk thread. Silk traditionally come from Bengal, Central Asia and Italy, but now comes from either Malda, in Bengal or from Kashmir or Japan.

The most famous brocaded textile of Varansi is called Kinkhab woven with coarse but durable silk called Matka which is heavy enough to take brocading with gold or silk thread. A silk and zari work brocade of lighter material and less heavy ornamentation is known as 'pot-than' or 'bafta'. The name for brocades without any metal work is called Amru.

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