Sunday, 31 July 2011

Varanasi Saris- Process Notes

Notes on Varanasi Silk Saris

A Scenic View of the Ganges

Warp and Weft

Loom- Note the two Jacquards
A Close-up view of the Cloth Roll
Rangkaat Sari - Different Colored weft - Interlock technique
Card for Jacquard- Not Interchangeable for other machines

Temple- 6 nails- Unlike Chanderi come from Below
Dyeing of Body and Palla
A View of the Karkhaana- No Jaalas anymore

The warp used is 20/22 denier filament silk. 20/22 is called so because normally a silk fiber is of 2 denier. When 11 such filaments are taken then it becomes 22 denier. However, while reeling one filament may get broaken which means the denier is 20. Hence it is called 20/22 denier. Apart from this 14/18, spun, tussar , 16/18 and Pashmina are also used in the warp. Weft normally used is Katan. Normally for plain weave base 4 heald shafts are used in groups of 2. For Tanchui with Satin base more heald shafts are used. Jacquards are used for extra weft figuring. There can be upto three jacquards, one for weaving body motif, one for palla and one to set Konia etc. Min. warp size can be two saris. Jacquard can be 120 hooks or 160 hooks depending upon the design. Cards cut for one jacquard cannot be interchanged for the other.


Zari comes in 220 grams bundle and the fineness is denoted by Gajas. If 220 grams has 1200 yards, it is called 1200 gaja if this bundle has 1750 yards, it is called 1750 Gaja. and if it has 3700 yards, it is called 3700 gaja. 1750 and 3700 yard zaris are most commonly used. Zari comes in four quality plastic, Powder, Tested and Real Zari. Plastic zari is also called Kalabattu. Poweder zari has a thinner coating then tested zari and plastic has a synthetic base. In all the zaris except Real, the copper wire is wrapped over a cotton, viscose or synthetic and it is coated with gold or silver. Generally tested zari is also called half fine zari. Also in powder zari the inner core is twisted rayon over which artificial gold color powder is super imposed to obtain the lustrous appearance.However this lace get blacken after some use.3700 Gaja tested Zari has polyester as a base ( 30 denier) with copper covering and siliver or gold electroplating. The thicker zaris has cotton as the core. The Silver coated zari is called Rupa and Gold coated sari is called Sona. The best zari suppliers are AVJ from Surat or Locat supppliers like Uma. Zari comes in three shades; dark, light and medium. To subdue the effect of zari, it can be twised with Resham and used.  An amazing presentation on Zardozi work can be seen here.


Dyes used are acid and metal complex for silk and Vat/reactive for cotton.  The colors of Varanasi Saris are fast and no staining is observed.

Preserving Varanasi Saris

The best way to preserve a Varanasi Sari is to keep it in the Mull cloth ( no starch, washed). Plastic is not recommened. It should be dry cleaned.

Finishing of Varanasi Saris

Generally after sari is finished it is then passed through cold calendar to give it a sheen and delivered.  

Other Notes

Maximum weight variation in two Varanasi saris willl be 20-50 grams per sari. Organza sari is called Kora. 

Other Readings:

An interesting reading is about the use of Condoms in making Varanasi Saris

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