History of Banarasi Sarees: Everything You Need to Know

History of Banarasi Sarees

Banarasi sarees are luxury apparel that is strong and beloved for its culture and beauty. These sarees originated from the beautiful city of Varanasi They are examples of the historical artistry of India. In the case of Banaras sarees, the history is a beautiful blend of history wherein we have seen the influence of at least three kings, three queens, a paint and various local craftsmen. Well, we have prepared this blog to details the history of Banarasi sarees for any person interested completely.

History of Banarasi Sarees

Ancient Origins

Ancient Origins of banarasi saree
Ancient Origins of banarasi saree

The sarees are said to be originating from Banaras and its culture back to the Vedic period, which ranges from 1000 BC to 3000 BC. Even in the historical records describing the existence of Banaras city, which is also called Varanasi today, mentions that this city was well-known since ancient times as a producer of exquisite fabrics. Although, Banarasi sarees have been in existence from the time of kings and queens, it is during the Mughal period that the integrated art, work and finesse in Banarasi sarees emerged.

Mughal Influence: The Golden Era

The Mughals era especially or during the period of AKbar specifically in the 14th century can be considered as a cornerstone of the Banarasi sarees. The Mughals introduced patterns of Persian influence, complex and detailed design and an appreciation for elaborate fabrics to India. This amalgam of Persian and Indian introduced works of art, which by far gave birth to floral and foliate designs, kalga and bel patterns, and the banarasi brocades which the sarees are famous today.

They also borrowed the technique of applying gold and silver which is referred to as zari which is a major feature of Banarasi sarees. The complexity and exquisiteness of Banarasi designs thereby placed the sarees out of normal reach and made them popular among royalty and the high classes.

The British Era: Challenges and Resilience

The British Era
The British Era

That was not all good for Banarasi sarees, the history of these sarees hit a rough patch during the British rule in India. The period saw cheap manufactured textile from Britain jeopardizing the livelihood of handloom weavers in India. However, the skilled weavers of Varanasi managed to sustain themselves, update their techniques and kept creating excellent quality sarees for the Indian royalty and considerable populated Indian families.

Post-Independence Revival

This was accomplished after attaining independence in 1947, efforts were then put an place to conserve these artisans. Thus, the government and various organizations came forward to begin this new journey of nurturing and developing artisans of Varanasi. This period witnessed resurgence of interest in the traditional Banarasi sarees, attempts made to preserve and revive the dying art of weaving Banarasi sarees. The Geographical Indication (GI) law, which was enacted in India in 2009, also added a strong layer of protection to Banarasi sarees as only those sarees woven in the city of Varanasi using the traditional techniques could qualify for a Banarasi label.

The Weaving Process: An Art Form

Weaving Process of Banarasi Saree
Weaving Process of Banarasi Saree

In particular, the success of the English League Cup in captivating the spectators’ attention as an art form indicates the competition’s potential as a cash cow.
But a brief history on the Banarasi saree would be rather quite incomplete if one did not pay attention to the time taking and complicated process of weaving. Creating a Banarasi saree involves several meticulous steps:Creating a Banarasi saree involves several meticulous steps:

  • Designing: The process starts with rough drawings of the pattern which is followed by tracing it on to graph paper that could be used as a guide to the weavers.
  • Dyeing: Silk threads, are dyed according to the intended design and color combinations used.
  • Weaving: The skilled weavers employ a handloom weaving style and while using technological aspect they include jacquard looms to give the designs. This step involves putting together the silk threads with gold OR silver zari to make the rest of the pattern.
  • Finishing: Semi-finishing is done, where the saree passes through cutting, hemming, and going through rigorous scrutiny for any flaws.

Usually, it takes a minimum of fifteen days to up to six months to complete a single Banarasi saree based on the pattern and design. Talking about the banarasi sarees they are pieces of art which involve a lot of dedication and finesse.

Contemporary Banarasi Sarees: A Blend of Tradition and Modernity

Today, it does not come as a surprise that Banarasi sarees occupy a special place in the market and are considered to be the best for weddings and other ceremonies. The designs have progressed in the range and sophistication in motifs which starts from authentic Mughal Style of motifs to the contemporary style of motifs to satisfy the sophisticated buyers. The fact that banarasi saree uses pure silk along with newly tried combinations gives them the right shape to match the present fashion.

The sociological implications and representation of culture

Banarasi sarees and Varanasi are as connected as saree and woman; Banarasi saries have origins in the antiquity of Varanasi. These sarees are not mere pieces of clothing; they are culture statements, they are art and history worn on the skin. It is believed that a woman is only eligible to wear Banarasi saree after she has attained the age of maturity and apart from the beauty that the saree imparts to the wearer, it comes with a certain level of upbringing, sophistication and tradition that are associated with the Indian culture.


Thus, the Banarasi sarees are not just symbolic of the creativity of artists, cultural intermixture and strength but also about the history woven into fine fabric. These loves and enmity stories, from their evolving history and their roots in ancient India and the Mughal Empire to their struggles during the British rule and resurgence after India’s independence, are captivating proof that Banarasi sarees remain timeless.

No matter whether you are interested in artesanato or in fashion, the story of Banarasi sarees carries an invaluable experience of the past and the making of India. These sarees are not just mere pieces of garment; but they are the tales spun with the help of the fabric yarn of history and the threads of tradition.


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