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Indian Crafts >> Gold Zari
Gold Zari
History of Gold Zari

Varanasi seems to have been a centre of fine textile weaving for atleast two millennia. The ancestors of todays weavers most probably arrived during one of the periodic migrations that have occurred from the Middle East and Western India since the early second millenium A.D.Under patronage from Mughal rulers, this art flourished, with weavers employed in royal workshops.Ralph Fitch (1583-91) describes Banaras as a thriving centre of the cotton textile industry. The earliest mention of the brocade and zari (metallic thread) textiles of Banaras is found in the 19th century. With the migration of silk weavers from Gujarat towards Varanasi during the famine of 1603, it is believed that silk brocade weaving started in Banaras in 17th century and developed its excellence during the 18th and 19th centuries.Today the Varanasi weaver is also making baluchari, jamdani, jamevar styles of decorative weaving. Several weavers in the villages around Varanasi are making brocaded fabrics.Mubarakpur is an important silk centre catering to the rural needs.
Fine Art
Actual gold zari was used to produce exquisite fabrics as the kinkhab,a figured silk with more zari than silk showing in the fabric surface. During the late nineteenth century, increasing trade contacts with European countries encouraged the exchange of ideas in its design and technique, bringing a variety of British, French and Italian foliage, fruits, baskets, wall paper and velvet designs into Banaras brocades. Silk core with gold coloured silver covering is usually used. Now, polyester zariis also used for the decorations. Some of the traditional designs for brocading are Shikargarh (hunting scene); butis/butas (floral forms)- chand-buti (moon shaped), taj-buti (crown), badam-buti (almond shaped), pankha-buti (fan shaped), jhumka buti (ear pendant shaped) etc.;jal (network), auspicious symbols and figures of deities; Chinese motifs such as the dragons, winged lions, phoenix, cranes, lotuses, chrysanthemums, stylished clouds, and the script. Now a days few new designs such as nagai (gold circles with rich floral patterns in pallu); chunari (pallu is ornamented with gold flowering shrubs and flowers, small flowers); phulawar (all over floral patterns with a blend of colours) are also in vogue.The gyasars are popular Chinese style brocades used as prayer mats, originally supplied by China to the Buddhist monasteries of India, Nepal and Tibet. After the political disturbance in Tibet, their supply was stopped by China. On seeing the demand for such cloth, it was copied in Varanasi.
A pattern of the design to be woven is drawn on paper. The design is transferred on the cotton yarn with the help of tilli through the warp and weft grid. This contrivance is known as jala, which contains the total graphic pattern. This jala is hung from top of the loom and tied to the warp threads Only the controlled warp threads are lifted as per the design. Extra weft threads of zari/ silk are inserted in the raised portions,row by row, along with the running weft thread. Jala device has been replaced by the punched cardson, the jaquard looms for these brocade decorations. Gyasar the Tibetan woven offerings are very closely woven. Apart from the silk/zari thread peacock feathers are used in a satin weave to produce an entire surface of the feathers. The motifs are woven on dark red, yellow, blue and white satin ground with use of gold and silver zari.
Basic Material : Silk, zari, cotton, polyester, jacquard loom; dori (thread; 80no./60 no., mercerised yarn (dhaga) 30 no.
Decorative Material : Peacock feathers.
Colouring Material : Bukani (colour powder).
Glass table, loom
Sari, yardage, dress material, wall-hangings, gyasar (Tibetan offering).

Indian Crafts : History of Gold Zari