Benarasi saris brought the weaver and his loom back to life


Benarasi saris brought the weaver and his loom back to life in Pandemic.Swati Agarwal and Sunaina Jalan each Textile revivalists overcame the challenges of the pandemic to ship out a bunch of heirloom Benarasi saris.

“Such saris are heirloom pieces to be handed down to our generations. They are on a par with jewellery and their worth should be known and cherished.” Swati Agarwal is speaking about re-branding and reinstatement of  the Benarasi sari. Along along with her affiliate Sunaina Jalan, she has brought a bunch, which is at the second on current at Cult Modern, a extreme pattern and life-style retailer in Fort Kochi. “Our 40 looms have restarted and we are almost back to a normal life,” says Swati about overcoming the challenges of the pandemic.

The duo has been recreating misplaced and forgotten weaves and motifs on Benarsi silk since the 12 months 2015. Their distinctive ensemble is made with 98.5 % pure silver yarn and 24-carat electroplated gold. Each of these single/limited-edition saris comes with a certificates that establishes purity, weave, maker, and Geographical Indication (GI).

At the retailer in Kochi, a royal blue Benarasi lights up a window with its flooring gildings. A shocking pink sari is draped dramatically over a bronze stand. A rangkaat with pied shades of blue and inexperienced hangs amid the rich ensemble, whereas a muted gold with delicate silver work falls majestically on a nook stand. Booti blouses in empire cuts, or with retro prolonged sleeves, transport one to riversides of Varanasi (usually generally known as Banaras) the place the looms are really working.

“All these were made while the Coronavirus raged,” says Swati. She recollects how the 40 devoted looms had to stop work midway when the lockdown was launched. The textile looms in Varanasi lie shut to the banks of the Ganges. Under common conditions, this proximity to the water helps the yarn keep supple and contributes to the remaining drape of the supplies. But with the looms shuttered and three months of heavy rain, there was hurt every to the wood and the materialensuing in heavy termite infestation in the wood and moisture stains on the supplies.

Benarasi saris that brought the weaver and his loom back to life in the pandemic

“We function on pit looms, which are two-and-a-half feet below the ground. The weaver sits at the ground level with his feet hanging to where the foundation of the loom is. In normal circumstances, moisture is a plus point, but this became the largest single adversity for us during Corona. In the three months that the looms remained shut, moisture ate into the wooden parts, which had to be reconstructed. We could salvage the steel portions but the saris had been stained and had to be rejected,” explains Swati.

The weaving commerce in Varanasi moreover faces completely different challenges like momentary, order-based work and work on credit score rating. “As the industry works on credit, some advance is extended and full payment is made only after delivery. This time, the regular retailers cancelled their orders. Money that was due to weavers from the winter sales did not come. To restart, they needed to reconstruct and restructure according to current health rules, and rehab their looms. They were short of cash. So, weavers were facing a double whammy,” says Swati.

Finally, 10 looms began work in July. “The entire industry in Benaras runs due to certain designers who keep the work going non-stop. We don’t stop production, irrespective of demand. That is our responsibility to the weavers,” says Swati, together with that one different lot of weavers rely on sellers who come to Varanasi to place orders for a season solely.

The looms that often work with 20 weavers at a time began operations with merely two. “We had to assure social distancing and sanitisation. The work was sluggish nonetheless it was there; in case one worker fell sick, the work stopped. But we managed. Things are gearing up now a days with some demand coming all through the festive season.

Creating An Oriental weave

  • In April 2019, Swati and Sunaina provided Between Land & Sky: Woven Gold from the Gyaser Tradition, at Gallery Maskara in Mumbai. Curated by famend textile scholar and creator Dr Monisha Ahmed, the exhibition traced the historic previous of Gyaser, the metallic brocades woven in Benaras for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.

Founder and design director of Cult Modern, Archana Nandal, wanted to launch the assortment as a brand of reclaiming life. “We want to shed the COVID-19 baggage and reclaim our lives. Family occasions and ceremonies are the best; we are taking gentle steps towards this,” she says. The saris are priced between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 4 lakh, and each is packaged in a picket subject that carries with it the particulars of its provenance and value.

So, whilst you placed on one, you are perhaps the only one in the world sporting a Benarasi with a resurrected 18th Century French lace and bow motif; a collector’s delight and undoubtedly a murals.

(Check the assortment at, Instagram:@shopcultmodern)