Zari and Silk in India: Weaving a spell

Submitted by aurora on

..Zari is a type of thread made of fine gold or silver wire used in traditional Indian and Pakistani garmentsThis thread is woven into fabrics, primarily made of silk to create intricate patterns. It is believed this tradition started during the Mughal period. The Padiyur Sarvodaya Sangh (PSS), a certified unit of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) near Kangayam, is the lone unit in South India where dyeing, weaving and zari production of silk saris are done. From cocoon to ornamental silks, the unit processes everything under one roof.

The cocoons collected from the farmers are separated quality-wise before being steamed and then reeled to make it into a yarn. After winding, doubling is done to the yarn and then it is twisted and dyed. Production manager Kuppusamy says, "We have a dyeing unit, the only one in the State to colour the silk yarn. We don't let the effluents spoil the environment. We treat it and use the water for our teak plantation." First, gold is made into a liquid form and then coated on the silver yarn. "Earlier, we used to get the zari from Surat. But now we produce it here and send it to all units under the KVIC," says Swaminathan. "We guarantee the saris manufactured here and even after five years, if the customers find any damage, we will rectify it," he says. The Padiyur unit has its own looms. "We have a number of designs all woven manually by our weavers. We also customise some saris to suit individual tastes. Every year we manufacture five crore silk sarees, and of these, 2.5 crore saris are distributed in the local market," says Swaminathan. They also have saris embellished with stones. The prices range from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 30,000. The other khadi products on display at the exhibition are kolhapuri chappals, bed sheets, agarbatis, washing soap, pillows and mattresses.

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Banaras Silk: Usually, it takes around 15 days to one month to complete a Banarasi saree. Still, the time may vary depending upon the complexity of designs and patterns of the sari.The Mughal era was the time when the fame and recognition of Banarsi silk sarees of India reached its pinnacle. Even the motifs underwent a change and the saree saw new designs, resulting from the combination of Indian and Persian patterns. Today, Indian craftsman are exporting Banarsi sarees, the specialty of Benaras/Varanasi, to the remotest corners of the world. Numerous weavers, in and around the city of Benaras, are engaged in this ever-expanding industry. The silk used in the making of Indian Benarasi silk sarees is being sourced from the southern parts of the country, mainly Bangalore.

Types of Banarsi Sarees
There are following four basic varieties of Banarasi silk saree:

  • Pure Silk Saree (Katan)
  • Organza Saree (Kora), with Zari And Silk
  • Georgette Saree
  • Shattir Saree

Making of a Banarasi Silk Saree
An ideal Banarasi Sari comprises of somewhere around 5600 thread wires, all of them 45-inch wide. The base of the sari is woven on the power loom. In case of weaving the warp, the craftsmen make the base, which is around 24 to 26 m long. One of the most important aspects of weaving Banarsi silk sarees of India is the teamwork involved. Typically, three weavers are involved in the creation of the saree. One of them weaves the saree, while the second one is engaged at the revolving ring, where bundles are created. At the time of bundling a new process of designing the motifs begins. For creating design boards, the first thing that is done by an artist comprises of sketching the design on a graph paper, along with color concepts. Before selecting the final design, punch cards are created. A single design of an Indian Benarasi saree requires hundreds of perforated cards for the implementation of the idea. Different threads and colors are used on the loom to knit the prepared perforated cards. The knit perforated cards are then paddled in a systematic manner. This is done to ensure that the main weaving picks up the right colors and pattern.

Kanchipuram Silk: Kanchipuram Silk SareesThe temple city of Kanchipuram is also the silk city of India. It has a thriving handloom industry with an enviable reputation as the producer of the best silk sarees in India. The silk weavers of Kanchi settled more than 400 years ago and kept up an unflinching tradition of producing impeccable silk sarees. With an economy entirely dependent on tourism and the well-established handloom industry, Kancheepuram has thousands of handlooms and skilled weavers that make its silk sarees one of the best in the entire world. About 75% of Kanchipuram's population is dependent on the Silk Saree industry, either directly or indirectly. Yet, the city does not manufacture Silk or any other raw material that goes into its silk sarees. The Silk industry is entirely made up of Handloom weavers and merchants. Each of the Kanchipuram silk saree is unique in itself since it is entirely hand woven with dyed silk yarn with interleaved designs made with 'Zari' - a Silk thread twisted with thin Silver wire and then gilded with pure Gold. Technically, the silk thread used for weaving Kanchipuram Sarees is made up of three single threads twisted together. Woven from pure mulberry silk, these sarees have classic texture, luster, durability and finish. With their dazzling colors and exquisite designs, Kanchipuram silk sarees are worn by the rich and affluent across India.

Submitted by Ron - Saree Clothing (not verified) on Thu, 28-May-2009 - 19:57


I imagine that this embroidery technique is very expensive! But it really looks nice and luxurious though.

The Bridal saree is given very importance by any Indian women. It is available in different fabrics like cotton, silk, georgette, crepe, etc. A lot of different beautiful works are done on the wedding sarees like zari, embroidery,zardosy, organza, mirror work, cut work, patch work, pearl work, kundan, kasab and sequence that more beautify the bridal saree. The Bridal saree is available basically red in color. The Bridal sarees have their own unique style, designs, works, glamour and fabrics which looks extremely beautiful and unique when worn by a bride and this also adds to her beauty.