Sona Rupa – Zari Making Or Kalabattu In Varanasi

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Zari is what makes the Silk Saris treasured. The golden or silver embellishment provides weight and grandeur to the naturally shimmering material. Within the good outdated days, it was manufactured utilizing pure treasured metals – gold for golden hues and silver for the whitish shades. So, the Saris even once they have been worn out, nonetheless held the worth of gold and silver in them. In locations like Kanchipuram, you may nonetheless discover retailers shopping for again outdated Saris for the gold and silver they’ve.

Bandhani Sari in Zari
Bandhani Sari in Zari

With time, because the metals turned costlier, pure Zari turned unaffordable for most individuals. Improvements have been completed to take care of the feel and appear of the gold and silver designs by utilizing much less treasured metals. This included plating the copper wire with silver after which with gold, or wrapping a skinny film-like layer of silver on a cotton thread. Imitation Zari after all exists and has its personal market.

Let me take you to an actual Zari workshop and present you ways these superb hair-like threads of silver are created to weave into delicate silk material.

Sona-Rupa or Gold and Silver Zari

Historically, within the weaving language, Gold Zari is known as Sona and Silver one Rupa. Actually, Rupa is the phrase for silver in lots of Indian languages. It’s from this phrase that we get the phrase ‘Rupaiya’ for our forex. Zari comes from the Persian phrase ‘Zar’ and means gold. In India, it was historically known as Kalabattu, although now this identify is never used.

Sona Rupa Sari with both Gold and Silver Zari
Sona Rupa Sari with each Gold and Silver Thread

Silver stays the first ingredient for each the silver in addition to the golden Zari. Latter is the truth is the silver thread that has been gold plated.

Within the good outdated days, they used to place the silver Zari in heat turmeric water to permit it to soak up the pure yellow shade.  After some time, it gave an impression of being golden. This ‘Haldi Zari’ although pure, was not steady. The colour would fade off after some time.

Slowly the electroplating methods, developed through the center of the final century, made their method to the lanes of conventional silk clusters like Varanasi. As we speak it’s a default approach to make gold Zari. Attributable to excessive gold costs, the utilization of this shade in pure has gone down drastically. As of now, the gold Zari is created utilizing the lacquering approach that makes use of chemical substances to provide the impact of gold. It appears to be like like gold however it’s not actually gold. Chemical substances are additionally used to herald completely different shades of gold – from shining vibrant to a boring matte end.

Totally different Forms of Zari

The purest type of Zari has solely silver and it clearly prices accordingly.

The second sort has a copper wire with a skinny layer of silver on it. So, what you see and what your pores and skin feels is silver, however what’s inside is just not actually silver.

The third sort is a silk or cotton thread with a layer of silver foil (known as Baadla) on it.

Lastly, there may be imitation Zari that’s made utilizing chemical substances, resins, or plastic.

The price differential between the pure Zari and the remainder of the variants is roughly a a number of of 10-12. The price of actual Zari is clearly straight proportional to the price of pure steel.

Learn Extra – Silk Saris on the Intersection of Artwork, Structure and Heritage

Technically talking, that is how Zari is broadly labeled:

  1. Actual Zari Kasab – Silver, Copper, Gold & Silk / Cotton
  2. Imitation Zari Kasab – Copper/ Brass, Silver (Gilted), Viscose/ Polyester/cotton/silk &
    Gilted (Gold/chemical)
  3. Metallic Zari Kasab – Metallised Golden yellow sheet made into yarn and core is,
  4. Actual Zari Product for Embroidery – Zardoshi that’s Silver wire and gilted/ laminated with pure gold with no core yarn
  5. Imitation Zari Product for Embroidery – Zardoshi i.e. Copper Gilted with silver once more gilted with Chemical
  6. Metallic Zari Product for Embroidery – Zardoshi or Metallised Golden yellow sheet made into yarn

How a lot Zari is utilized in a Sari?

A Silk Sari can eat anyplace from a couple of grams to greater than a kilogram of Zari. For the heavy Jaal saris which are stuffed with silver or golden patterns, as a lot as 1200 gm of zari can be utilized. No surprise the normal identify for these Zari Saris was ‘Bhari Saris’ or Heavy Saris.

Pure Zari is usually used for handloom Saris. The facility looms have a tendency to make use of the Phekhua approach that finally ends up losing a whole lot of weft materials. So, pure Zari is usually not used on energy looms.

With the arrival of low-cost plastic imitation varieties, the variety of Zari makers in clusters like Varanasi has drastically gone down. As of now, there are only a handful of Zari Makers in silk clusters like Kashi and Kanchipuram. Now Zari is usually provided from Surat.

Because of the big value differential, the pure and imitation variants will proceed to co-exist. Not everybody can afford the actual Zari, at the least not on a regular basis. On the identical time, there are connoisseurs who will proceed to patronize it creating a requirement.

Learn Extra – Totally different Forms of Silk in India

Play of silver

If we have a look at the Zari-making course of, all of it begins with the stable block of pure silver that the producers procure from the steel market. It’s put by way of numerous processes to scale back to about 0.3mm in thickness. The method is straightforward however entails many steps.

Different stages of Silver in Zari Making
Totally different phases of Silver in Zari Making

In step one, the stable block of silver, domestically known as ‘Chandi ki Batia’ is melted and transformed into lengthy rods, rectangular in form. A little bit of copper is added at this stage as silver by nature is malleable. This lengthy silver rod is additional stretched and handed by way of hearth kilns repeatedly until it reaches about 30mm of thickness. At this stage, it’s known as ‘Paasa’. Because the thickness decreases, it may be rolled into hanks known as ‘Guchhali’, identical to the hanks of uncooked yarn or wool.

Paasa goes by way of as many as 20 ranges of stretching, by repeatedly passing it by way of the small holes in a spherical steel dye of lowering thickness. This dye is known as ‘Baara’ and is marked with a quantity indicating its thickness. At each step, the thickness of the silver thread retains lowering until it reaches the specified degree the place it compares with the width of silk threads or human hair. Now it is able to be woven like silk to create the patterns we like to flaunt on our Saris.  ‘Tarkashi’ is the identify given to this thread when it resembles a really superb wire.

Baara that pulls the thread to reduce thickness
Baara that pulls the thread to scale back the thickness


The ultimate superb wire is then flattened and is known as ‘Baadla’. It’s wrapped on a base materials that may be both silk/cotton/polyester thread or copper wire. It’s also be used straight for gildings or embroidery. Silver does undergo a couple of chemical therapies earlier than it may be used as Zari.

Baadla or flattened silver thread
Baadla or flattened silver thread

I noticed the 32mm silver wire being handed by way of completely different dyes and the ultimate superb Zari of 0.3mm thickness. The entire course of appears to be like easy and is kind of utterly mechanized now. It may be carried out with primary human supervision.

Zari Makers of Varanasi

Vimlesh Maurya Ji, whose workshop I visited in Varanasi, defined that within the good outdated days all of the work needed to be completed manually. Artisans used to beat the steel by hand after which lower it into superb strips to make Zari. Slowly mechanization occurred however the machines nonetheless needed to be operated by hand. Now, after all, most of them function on electrical energy.

Making of Silver Zari
Making of Silver Zari

Zari making stays a cottage business run by households who’ve historically been on this enterprise. A multi-storeyed haveli serves as residence, workplace in addition to a workshop for the producers. Within the weavers’ quarters, you may hear the sound of looms, however Zari makers stay within the background. It’s only their product that proudly takes the Centerstage on a Sari.

Their provide chain works like clockwork, as it’s primarily a B2B (enterprise to enterprise) enterprise. Varanasi being a silk weaving cluster, that too the place the give attention to Zari weaving is excessive, is a pure hub for Zari makers. Previously, they’ve additionally provided to the opposite silk clusters in India like Kanchipuram and Dharmavaram. It tells us how effectively the commerce routes have been established throughout India, and the way effectively related the enterprise communities have been. As we speak, nevertheless, Surat is the most important heart for producing Zari in India.

Know Your Zari

To check the purity of Zari, the easiest way is to take a small thread and burn it. If the residue is whitish ash, then the Zari is pure, else not. Imitation Zari will depart a black residue. Whether it is in plastic, then it is going to burn like plastic with flame working backward.

One other take a look at is to take a thread and rub it on a stone. The colour of the luster on the stone will inform you the bottom steel, reddish hue will point out copper and whitish silver. Imitation one will depart nothing. These should not actually foolproof strategies of testing the Zari. Imitation metals may also produce related outcomes. There are lab exams accessible to confirm the pureness of Zari used.

Zari manufacturing has been standardized. We are going to share the small print in subsequent posts about it.

Learn Extra – Silk Route of Bengaluru 

Kalabattu – Our Heritage

Culturally in India, Gold and silver are additionally related to purity. So, placing them in your clothes provides a layer of purity to them too, particularly once they should be part of vital Sanskaras or milestones in your life. these shimmering silks embellished with pure silver, who wouldn’t envy our luxurious quotient!

When shopping for the pure Silk Sari, if the Kalabattu and silk are genuine, don’t hesitate to pay the worth. It’s price investing in.

Zari or Kalabattu making and weaving is a residing heritage of India, allow us to preserve it that means!

Silk Mark of India

This put up has been written in affiliation with the Silk Mark Group of India.



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