India and Pakistan, whose destinies were once intertwined and now separated, witnessed a beautiful blend of talents and cultures. From the heartlands of Uttar Pradesh, the charm of Bihar, the diversity of Delhi, the splendor of Amroha and the grandeur of Lucknow to the echoes of Banaras – each group of migrants brought a piece of their soul to contribute to the rich tapestry of Pakistan.
In Karachi, the vibrant and hardworking Banarasi community carved a unique identity. He weaves the story of Karachi with threads of tradition and innovation, creating textiles that reflect both the culture of the city and the spirit of its people.
jio digital To connect with the Banarasi community, took a trip to learn the secrets of their exquisite Banarasi textiles.
Nestled in the vibrant heart of Karachi’s Orangi Town, the city of Banaras came alive when the Banarasis stepped in after the birth of Pakistan. Today, most of the city’s residents still retain an indelible mark of that close-knit community.
As Zafar Ullah Ansari, president of the Banarasi Cloth Merchants and Association, explains, Banarasis who set out on their journey from India after Partition found their new home in temporary settlements around the bustling industrial areas of Orangi Town.
One of these settlements, Banaras Colony, is a living testament to their resilience.
Beyond these horizons, you will find the people who began their journey from East Pakistan after migration, and left an indelible mark on the annals of Pakistan’s history.
This land allotted to the Bannarsi community during the tenure of former President General Ayub Khan remains a vibrant hub, weaving stories of culture, unity and diversity into the fabric of Pakistan’s story.
However, when we asked Zafar about his ancestors’ business, the history of the famous Banarasi textiles, he humorously replied: “To uncover the origin of this fabric, I had to travel to the heart of India, the city of Banaras. may be required. Unfortunately for me, knowledge does not come from the beginning.”
In his witty response, Zafar emphasized the rich and complex heritage of Banarasi textiles, and suggested that the roots of this exquisite craft are deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of Banaras, India. It’s a reminder that some stories are meant to be discovered in the vibrant streets and ancient markets of the city where they first began.
Zafar shared an interesting information about the making of this unique fabric, which revealed that it is a rare fabric woven from silk threads produced by the tiny silkworm called “cocoon”.
These remarkable creatures produce a glowing secretion at a distance of up to 4,000 yards! The valuable cocoon secretions that reside in mulberry trees are carefully harvested, processed and spun into fine linen.
Linen is considered a luxurious and royal fabric, often priced higher than regular textiles.
From cocoon to loom!
The initial stage of preparing this fabric involves carefully threading the silk from the cocoon to the loom.
42 year old Irfan Ansari, resident of Banaras town, has been engaged in this hard work since childhood. He explained that the threads first come from China, and then they go through various stages.
Irfan emphasized the important role of the charkha, where the weaving of threads takes place. He said the expertise of the spinner is important as a malfunction in the wheel can disrupt the entire process. About 20 to 25 skilled persons handle this complex process before the Banarasi textile reaches the market.
Pakistani artisans are very proud of their art.
Zafar proudly points out that China exports silk from all over the world, but the fabric they produce in Pakistan is far superior to the quality of clothes from all other countries.
“Everything we create is woven from the heart of our silk threads,” he enthusiastically shares. According to him, his art is enhanced by the devotion that arises from his deep connection with the art.
Zafar tells that his community started the journey of Banarasi cloth production only after settling in Pakistan. From hand looms to the story of their workmanship (Khaadi) Powerloom is not just a story of technology and machinery; It is a story woven with traditional values and intricate artistry that has been passed down through generations.
Their respect for age-old practices and their commitment to preserving the essence of their art stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of Pakistan’s skilled artisans.
In a world driven by technology, they maintain the purity of their craftsmanship, proving that the heartbeat of tradition beats strongly in their creations.
Threads of Excellence: The Artistry of Banarasi Fabrics of Pakistan
Zafar believes that the art of crafting Banarasi clothes, a gift of nature, can be a unique treasure that only his community possesses. It is this uniqueness that allows the beauty of their designs and fabrics to stand out amidst the sea of clothes.
However, it is also sad that the government has not paid proper attention to this industry.
Forty-year-old Abdul Aziz, who is involved in the early stages of spinning yarn, shares his story. His wife and children join him in the process of spinning and unraveling the yarn.
According to him, if his wife does not help, he will not be able to continue his work. The core of their work is to wind the yarn on rollers and then feed it to a power loom or machine. Khaadi, He is of the view that modern machines have made this process easier, however, in the past, it was mainly done by hand.
In short, these craftsmen share a deep connection with their work, inspired by an enduring sense of tradition and craftsmanship.
Mohammad Rafiq, who hails from Kashi region, has a common bond with the people who migrated from India to Pakistan. Rafiq’s father was among the brave souls who traveled to their new homeland in Pakistan. Rafiq himself has been working in the heart of Banaras city for the last forty years.
His craft involves operating “Stick“, a traditional hand-powered charkha. It is a task that involves both the mind and hands, just like running a sewing machine. Rafiq emphasizes that this business is a collaborative effort, with different individuals involved in spinning the yarn. Contribute to various aspects from spinning to joining of threads at various stages.
Rafiq’s story is a testament to the interconnectedness of skilled artisans, with each stage of the process requiring different hands and expertise, all working together to create a masterpiece of Banarasi textiles.
Textile making is in the blood of the Banarasi community and their love for this craft is undeniable. Discussing the types of textiles, Zafar said that whether it was cotton or silk, all of them were woven. Khaadi,
He shared an interesting tale passed down through generations that traces the use of Khaadi Back in the time of Hazrat Shees (Seth). However, as times have evolved, machines have taken center stage. Power loom has stepped in, but there is a difference in its work and workmanship. KhaadiThe difference marked by time and cost.
Fabrics produced on power looms, such as sareesWhereas, starts from around Rs 15,000 Khaadi sarees Start from Rs 18,000. Yet, what differentiates the two is not just the price but the speed of production. KhadiThe weaving process takes time, requires patience and skill, but the power loom speeds up the process.
once the clothes come off Khaadi or power loom, the next step involves finishing.
Next comes the intricate work of dyeing and bleaching, which gives the final touch to these masterpieces of Banarasi textiles.
a robe of royalty
Zafar highlighted the historical significance of Banarasi textiles and revealed that throughout history, these fabrics graced the courts and palaces of the Mughals and other royal houses. It was considered one of the favorite textiles of the elite class, earning it the nickname of “Mughal design fabric”.
The royal association of Banarasi fabric speaks to its richness and intricate beauty, making it a preferred choice for those who appreciate the finer things in life.
According to accounts from the older generation, the distinctive tower-like designs of Banarasi textiles were reminiscent of royal attire. This royal association earned it the title of “Royal Fabric”.
Giving an example, Zafar said that during the British colonial period, many members of the British royal family, including Queen Victoria, wore clothes made of Banarasi cloth.
In 2007, Bollywood actress and former Miss World, Aishwarya Rai made most of her wedding attire, especially Banarasi. sareesPrepared in Banaras (India).
an article from times of India It is also reported that there were 11 people in the Bachchan family. sarees Made for Abhishek Bachchan’s wedding ceremony, it is estimated to cost Rs 250,000.
This historical and contemporary significance reflects the timeless charm and beauty of Banarasi textiles.
In the manufacturing sector of Banarasi textiles, the stages of dyeing and finishing are completed intricately without the aid of machines. Abdul Majeed, a young artisan, is among those who participate in both the dyeing and finishing processes along with his family and relatives.
He emphasizes that he never considered taking up any other profession, as it is a legacy deeply rooted in his family’s traditions and royal lineage.
Abdul Majid’s unwavering commitment to preserving this ancestral art shines through as he works tirelessly with his family members. In their two-storey residence, several members of the Majid family live together harmoniously, with living quarters on the upper floor and a bustling world of craftsmanship below.
The new generation is deeply committed to this art.
The community of Banarasis has its own unique customs and traditions. For example, when their businesses experience a downturn, they come together for a special three-day tradition of praying at the mosque, called a ritual. ‘total stranger’,
Zafar shared information about this practice, he told that all the members of his community closed their businesses, gathered in the mosque and prayed to the Almighty that after this holy ritual, their business would once again bear fruit. will bloom, and they can resume their business. Renewed energy.
This heart-warming tradition not only reflects his unwavering faith, but also his dedication to his craftsmanship and the spiritual values that guide his life.