Banarasi saris are saris made in Varanasi, a city which is also called "Benares." These saris are historically considered to be among the finest saris in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade, fine silk and opulent embroidery, and being highly sought after. These saris are made of finely woven silk and are decorated with intricate design, and because of these engravings, these saris are relatively heavy. Their special characteristics are Mughal inspired designs such as intricate intertwining floral and foliate motifs, kalga and bel, a string of upright leaves called jhallar at the outer, edge of border is a characteristic of these sarees. Other distinctive features are Heavy gold work, Compact weaving, figures with small details, metallic visual effects, pallus, jal (a net like pattern), and mina work. These saris are an inevitable part of any Indian bride's trousseau .
Depending upon the intricacy of designs and patterns, a sari can take anywhere from 15 days to a one month and sometimes up to six months to complete. Banarasi saris are mostly worn by Indian women on important occasions such as when attending a wedding and are expected to be complemented by the woman's best jewelry.
From the Times of India: Banarasi saree glitters in new found demand
VARANASI: It seems that the glitter of handloom woven Banarasi sarees and brocades is returning. There is an increased demand for pure silk products woven exclusively on handloom. The benefits of Geographical Indication (GI) certification have thus started showing for the handloom industry of this region. However, a shortage of skilled weavers is desisting the industry from reaping the harvest to the maximum.
"We are getting orders in bulk. In fact, we are finding it hard to fulfil the orders in time due to shortage of skilled and efficient weavers and artisans," said Jagannath, a handloom owner of Ramnagar. According to him, presently the handloom industry is facing acute shortage of skilled weavers due to the slump in the industry in the past. "The young generation is not showing an interest in weaving," he told TOI.
After getting the GI tag in September 2009, an increase of about 28% was estimated in the business of pure handloom materials, said Rajni Kant, president of Human Welfare Association (HWA), one of the registered proprietors of GI for Banaras Brocades and Sarees. According to him, a sample survey was conducted recently to know the status of GI tagged product. "It is an encouraging indication despite the fact that adequate measures as post-GI activities are yet to be taken by the government machinery for the publicity and creating awareness," he said. According to him, around 12 lakh people are associated directly or indirectly in the handloom silk industry of the region.
Assistant director (handloom) KP Verma is also hopeful that golden era of Banarasi handloom products will return. "Today the handloom industry is finding it difficult to fulfil the demands," he told TOI. According to him, the Banarasi handloom industry has an annual turn over of about Rs 400 crore. He said the registration for the logo had been applied and efforts were being made to popularise the GI benefits. Presently there are 18 authorised users of Banarasi brocade and sarees. He said efforts were also being made to bring back those weavers, who had given up the weaving trade during the crisis period. Presently, there are 55,000 handlooms in the district while 45,000 handloom were operational few years back.