A Banarasi sari is a sari made in Varanasi, an ancient city which is also called Benares (Banaras). The saris are among the finest saris in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery. The saris are made of finely woven silk and are decorated with intricate design, and, because of these engravings, are relatively heavy.

Historians have been able to trace silk work to Vedic times. Hiranya – literally translated as cloth made from gold – finds mention in the revered Rig Vedas as the attire of the Gods. And some scholars believe that this description comes close to the embellished zari work, synonymous with Banarasi silk sarees. The timeless Jataka Tales and Pali texts support the evidence of a bustling cloth trade on the banks of the holy Ganga, in Kashi.

The Banarasi saree is divided into categories like Tissue, Butidar, Cutwork, Tanchoi, and Jangal. Tissue sarees are woven with golden Zari Brocade to add sheen to the saree. The saree’s borders and pallu are patterned with self-woven paisleys. Butidar sarees are woven with brocade threads silver, silk, and gold. The darker shade of gold compared to the silver threads has earned the brocade patterning the name Ganga-Jumuna.

A graph refers to the detailed design template of a saree, which contains the border design, the design of the buttis and the pallu design. This template is designed by a graphic designer and showcases each design in minute detail to give proper structure and form to the final creation. Each pattern and design once approved at this stage, then goes into production or weaving of the piece.

Vibrant colors, rustling silks, glistening accents, intricate tapestry-like motifs – rooted in tradition, dipped in regality – well, these are the rich Banarasi weaves. The ‘Khandaani’ Indian heirlooms preserved for generations, also known to have found mentions in the legendary texts of the Mahabharata, Banarasis represent a hallowed slice of our history – that continues to evolve.

1. Mahabharata did mention about the Banarasi Silks (which was originally written thousands of years ago).
2. Even centuries-old Buddhist texts mentions about Banarasi silks.
3. The current design of Banarasi was the mix up of Persian design and Indian artistic culture.
4. An ideal Banarasi sari consists of about 5600 thread wires.
5. All of those thread wires has to be 45-inches wide (at least).

Increasing scams can make it hard to spot an original Banarasi saree from fakes. However, a major indicator that can help you choose an authentic one is the heavy thread work on the reverse side of the saree. Keep in mind that this, too, can be manipulated by crafty men. Therefore, a sure indicator of an original is the Geographical Indication (GI) tag found on them, meant to protect the artisans and buyers.