Punjab, a simple word creates a vivid image of sarson ke khet flowing with the wind, clear skies and the smell of soil freshly prepared for farming. From this rich fertile region comes the art of Phulkari, which is the most beloved form of folk art for Punjabi women.
Phulkari literally means “flower art”. Mentioned in the eternal love story of Heer Ranjha, Phulkari is coveted by every Punjabi girl, keeping the tradition of gifting a Bagh to the bride of a Punjabi household alive.
When lightly embroidered for everyday use, it is called a Phulkari. When embroidered on full suits to completely cover the cloth, the art form is a Bagh, which means “garden”
Most popular patterns for Phulkari are geometric designs made by darn-stitching the wrong side of handmade Khadi fabric with silk threads. Phulkari patterns also narrate the story of everyday life of Punjabi women. Every woman was a skilled artist who created a masterpiece with her own hands. It gave these women a way of expressing themselves. It is tradition to gift a Phulkari artwork to a bride in her trousseau. The motifs on the Phulkari reflected the bride’s emotions and the number of pieces in her trousseau showed the status of her family.
Modernisation brought along with it the availability of machinery which drastically impacted the market for authentic Phulkari. It takes a woman months to weave her Phulkari, whereas machines now could complete several suits in a day. But machinery could never match the grace of a handmade suit.
Most of the people related to Phulkari business are underpaid and their skills are devalued, because of easy availability of fake machine-made work and intermediaries making their own cut. To combat this issue, the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) has worked tremendously to promote and market authentic Phulkari by setting up self-help groups in the regions where this art is practiced.
A Banarasi sari is a sari made in Varanasi, a city which is also called Benares or 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.
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 saris. Other features are gold work, compact weaving, figures with small details, metallic visual effects, pallus, jal (a net like pattern), and mina work.
The saris are often part of an Indian bride’s trousseau.
Depending on the intricacy of its designs and patterns, a sari can take from 15 days to a 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 jewellery.
During olden days, Banaras was a thriving sector of the cotton textile industry. The earliest mention of the brocade and Zari textiles of Banaras is found in the 19th century. With the migration of silk weavers from Gujarat during the famine of 1603, probably, silk brocade weaving started in Banaras in the seventeenth century and developed in excellence during the 18th and 19th century. During the Mughal period, around 14th century, weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold and silver threads became the specialty of Banaras.
The traditional Banarasi sari is done with lot of hard work and skilful work using the silk. The sari making is a cottage industry for about 12 lakh people associated directly or indirectly with the hand loom silk industry of the region around Varanasi encompassing Gorakhpur, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts.
As per the GI certificate, Banarasi products fall under four classes, namely silk brocades, textile goods, silk saree, dress material and silk embroidery. Most importantly this means that no sari or brocade made outside the six identified districts of Uttar Pradesh, that is Varanasi, Mirzapur, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts, can be legally sold under the name of Banaras sari and brocade.
Bari bazaar in Varanasi, India, is famous for banarasi silk sarees. It used to be known as the main handloom saree manufacturing area but times change and it has become fully powerloom sarees manufacturing area. In this particular area there are more than 10 localities served, and population is more than 1 million. In Bari bazaar, daily money transaction is probably 50 million rupee. Bari bazaar is famous for its unique design, that is why it is still in the forefront of the developed textile market (Surat, Mumbai, and Kolkata).
There are four main varieties of Banarasi sari, which includes pure silk (Katan), Organza (Kora) with Zari and silk; Georgette, and Shattir, and according to design process, they are divided into categories like, Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tissue and Butidar
Since a large number of silk dyeing units in the trade use chemical dyes, which cause pollution in the Ganges River, a move is on to shift to natural dyes. A research team from the Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (IIT-BHU) used the technique of solvent extraction and enzymatic extraction to developed natural colours from plants, flowers and fruits including accaccia, butia (palash), madder, marigold and pomegranate (anar)
Ajrakh, is a style of block printing designs to create beautiful patterns mostly seen on tiles and shawls.
Ajrakh has now become synonyms with Sindhi cultures and tradition. Women use ajrak prints in sarees, shawls, dupattas, and other styles. Men use this print on their turbans, kamar-bandhs and or simply drape it.
Common colors found in Ajrak designs are red, blue, black, yellow,green and many more. Natural dyes such as turmeric, henna, indigo are used along with other vegetable and mineral dyes to give a traditional earthy feel to Ajrak wear.
Originating in Rajasthan, Gota Patti uses the applique technique where zari ribbon is made into elaborate patterns and sewed on to the borders to create a beautiful border. Having originated in Rajasthan, the hub of Gota work is in the cities of Jaipur, Kota, Bikaner, Ajmer, and Udaipur.
Metals like gold, silver, copper are used along with golden or silver zari to add to the beauty of Gota Patti. These are applied on the edges of the fabric to create bold and elegant patterns widely used for brides wearing sarees and lehengas. Gota work is a pride heirloom of many families, worn only on special and auspicious festivals. Brides take pride in their trousseau, complete with a gota patti saree.
How is it made?
The selected design is traced on a fabric of choice using a tracing paper and chalk paste. The Gota is cut and folded to form the shape of the design traced. This is then hemmed or backstitched on the fabric’s border.
Care for your Gota Patti
Gota Patti work should be hand-washed or machine washed on delicate mode.
Chikankari is one such artwork that makes every wearer look elegant and graceful. The delicate embroidery with subtle thread work makes it perfect for the office and formal occasions. Introduced by Noor Jahan, the Mughal Queen, it makes the wearer indeed look like Royalty on a day off. There is a Lucknowi dress for everyone as the wide variety of dupattas, sarees, suits, lehenga. Those who prefer to have their clothes tailormade, fabrics work the best.
The process of creating this renowned style begins with selecting the design to the final washing after embroidery. The weaver selects the fabric which is to be embroidered. This fabric is then printed using the block printing technique. The weaver then uses the stitch that best suits the design to embroider the fabric and embroiders the fabric.
Since the embroidery is so delicate, it can take anywhere between a day or a few weeks for the artisans to complete one dress or a saree. The originality of Chikan work cannot be recreated using machinery. To make sure you buy only the most elegant of all Lucknowis, visit Luxurionworld.com
Beads and a sharp edges needle named muthia are used to create chain stitches according to the design of the embroidery. Aari work is created using a pen shaped needle with an end shaped like a crochet needle. Aari work is popular for how delicate and fine the designs, thus bringing more finesse into hand embroidery.
It is traced back to the 12th century Mughal period. With time, places like Kutch, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Lucknow adopted Aari embroidery.
Seeing the intricacies of this work, it has always been considered one of the most tedious forms of needle work. However, today’s technology has blessed us with advanced stitching techniques and the increase in the number of artisans has made the embroidery work quicker.
Aari work is seen on all types of garments. They can be worn at weddings, family functions and are apt for formal settings as well.
To take care of your fabric, make sure you buy authentic items from luxurionworld.com. Also, a gentle hand wash and soft ironing is recommended.
Indian handicrafts are a fast dying industry, which is a part of our rich heritage. Do your bit to support these industries by purchasing fabrics originally manufactured and directly sourced from weavers. Visit luxurionworld.com to know more
Birbhum district of West Bengal is the birthplace of Kantha embroidery. Though Kantha was traditionally used to decorate quilts and bedspreads, it is now a popular embroidery for salwar kameez, sarees, dupattas and blouses.
Kanthasarees are ideally embroidered on cotton or silk. Pure silk and Tussar silk are the favoured varieties of silk. Kantha stitches have various types of stitches like Rumal Kantha, Archilata Kantha, Durjani Kantha, Baiton Kantha, Sujani Kantha, Lep Kantha and Oaar Kantha.
Rumal Kantha is used to cover plates, Archilata Kantha is used to cover mirrors , Durjani Kantha is used to make insides of purses and wallets, Baiton Kantha is used to cover books, bedspreads are made using Sujani KanthaandLep Kantha is used to make quilts for warmth, whereas OaarKantha is used for pillow covers.
These sarees are popular globally and are produced largely on a commercial scale. There are middlemen like marketing agencies, wholesellers selling raw materials and chain stores selling it to the final buyer. It is easy to get lost in the crowd and buy fake and get duped. Though these sarees are sold worldwide, they are still hand stitched by women of rural regions and deserve to be paid adequately.
To support these small industries, make sure you buy authentic items sourced directly from these weavers at Luxurionworld.com
The term “Bandhani”, also known as Bandhej, is derived from the Sanskrit word bandh which means “to bind” or “to tie”. As the name suggests, Bandhani is a technique of dyeing fabric by tightly tying threads in a pattern of the design.
Bandhani is one of the oldest art forms, found even in the Indus Valley Civilization. The walls of Ajanta are adorned with paintings depicting the life of Gautam Buddha, wearing dotted Bandhani.
In today’s time, Bandhani is produced in Punjab, Sindh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Mothra, Shikari and Ekdali are techniques of tying the fabric. The results are called as Khombi, Ghar Chola, Patori and Chandrokhani and much more.
Every region is popular for its own style of Bandhani. The Khatri community from Saurashtra and Kutch introduced the art of Bandhani to us. Tiny knots called Bheendi are tied on the cloth forming the desired design. This cloth is then dyed in bright colors and left to dry. The time taken for drying is depended on the weather conditions, being less in summers and more in winters and rainy seasons. Because of the knots, the cloth is dyed completely except for the knotted parts. Bandhani designs are worn as salwar kameez and turbans, alike.
To make sure your bandhani retains its newness, it is advisable to dry clean it and use low heat setting when ironing.
Popularized in India by Persians, Kalamkari or Qalamkari is the art of hand-painting or block-printing of cotton textile. The name Qalamkari has originated in Persia, which literally means drawing with pen as qalam means pen and kari means craftsmanship.
Process of Kalamkari
These intricate patterns are created using only natural dyes.
The cotton fabric to be used is soaked in astringent and buffalo milk and is then sun-dried. Cow dung is used for natural bleaching. Fresh cow dung is mixed with water in a mud pot and the clothes are mixed in it nicely so that each and every corner of the cloth absorbs the cow dung mixture solution.
It is then squeezed loosely and kept it on the floor for overnight.
Next day early morning, these pieces are taken to the pond and each piece is beaten on stone while washing.
After that the pieces are spread on grass and water is sprayed on the cloth with some interval till afternoon.
If there is sufficient water in pond with fungal leaves floating then the cloth can even be spread on the fungal leaves for drying.
In the evening, all the cloth pieces are collected from the pond, and the cloth is kept on the sand for the night.
Next morning again the beating and spreading process is repeated and after drying the cloth is ready for myrabalam process. Myrabalam process: Myrabalam seeds are powdered and soaked in water for one day.
The ready cloth pieces are dipped one by one in the juice extracted.
This process has to be done carefully so that all the threads of the cloth absorb the juice evenly and is squeezed properly and then dried in sun. Printing process: Printing is done by using wooden blocks and vegetable colors made by using a mordant name Alum and black color from iron jaggery and salt water. Washing: The printed cloth is washed in flowing water in a big pond.
The canal must have sand underneath the water, if not then the print will get smudged and the damage cannot be controlled.
Canal washing needs a rope to hang the cloth pieces in water otherwise the cloth with float away with the flowing water. Boiling: The cloth is now boiled in copper vessel using leaves, barks, and dry flowers etc Starch applying: Rice starch is applied for getting stiffness for second printing. Second colour printing/painting: The second colours pinks, yellows, greens andblues are printed in this process.
Kalamkari is one of the most comfortable wears for work and daily use. Make sure you wear only the best and authentic.
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One of the finest sarees of India, they are popular for their gold or silver zari that makes you feel like a traditional diva.
Thank the Mughals.
Though Banarasi cotton is mentioned in the Buddhist texts dating 500 to 800 CE, Banarasi fabric grew in popularity during the period of Mughal Emperor Akbar with the influence of Persian motifs. These sarees derive a lot of their intricate designs from intertwining floral and foliage motifs, kalga and bel, jhallar at the outer edge of border which come from Persia.
Banarasi Sarees have their own GI rights
Geographical Indication rights means the law identifies a particular type of product with the region where it is produced. In simple language, this law ensures that no state other than the 6 identified districts of Uttar Pradesh which are Varanasi, Mirzapur, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts, can be legally sold under the name of Banaras saree and brocade.
Banarasi sarees are made in varieties ranging from pure silk to Georgette. Pure silk is called Katan; Organza is made from zari and silk; Georgette, and Shattir. Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tissue and Butidar are the varieties in designs.
Just like music, weavers of Banarasi Sarees have their own Gharanas. Each Gharana specializes in its own kind of weave.
From northern Varanasi, we have the Mauval Gharana that specializes in Shikargarh designs, mainly comprising of Konia and ari jhari.
The central southern parts have blessed us with the Banaraswal Gharana which is more open to design experimentation and has a pan-India trade.
The Butidar saree is a paradigm of how various cultures have made their way into the weaves of Banaras. These sarees are made with gold and silver threads, showing the convergence of rivers Ganga and Jamuna, who are said to have black and white waters.
What the brides wear.
Any wedding trousseau is incomplete without a Banarasi Tissue saree. Gold zari is used to weave beautifully patterned lotuses, shown to be floating in the water. Intricate cutwork makes it appear as if drops of water are falling into the pond.
It needs resuscitation.
Although one of the most beloved cultural items of India, it is losing itself because of the mass produced thus cheap, China-made look-alike sarees flooding the market.
Apart from this, the rampant power cut forces the electrically powered looms to stay idle, which delays production.
Do your bit to support these industries by purchasing fabrics originally manufactured and directly sourced from weavers. Visit luxurionworld.com to know more.