The Master Weavers of Mughal Town in Varanasi India.
Read our previous posting: “The colorful Ghats of Varanasi India”
Every Indian girl, I am told, dreams of getting married in a Varanasi-woven silk saree. The art of weaving silk is a centuries-old tradition in Varanasi, passed on from generation to generation among the Moslem Ansari (which means “helpers”).
The Ansari weavers are clustered together in close quarters in the moslem district of Vanarasi, which is referred to as “Mughal Town” because the weaving trade in Varanasi dates back to the time of the Mughal Empire in the thirteenth century.
Threatened by the declining use of sarees in India and by increasing flows of cheap foreign imitations, the master weavers of Mughal Town persevere with their high quality hand-woven silk products.
As you enter the narrow alleys of Mughal Town, the tickety-tack rythmic and unceasing noise of working looms quickly fills your ears from all directions. Hundreds of looms are at work at the same time.
You can see many of these looms from the street simply by peeking through the bar windows of the houses you walk by. The weavers are friendly and frequently invite you to enter their cramped dimly lit workshops and witness the looms at work.
The design for each piece of work is programmed onto a cardboard card by hand in an age-old process.
After weaving on the loom some of the fabric is passed on to specialist shops for the addition of glass beads …
or of more expensive stones …
or for refined embroidery work.
Much of the work is custom made for weddings, but a store in the neighborhood offers a very wide selection of hand-woven silk products at very reasonable prices (bargaining is expected).
When in Varanasi, do not fail to walk the streets of Mughal Town and immerse yourself in the beautiful art of silk weaving.
Read our next posting: “The Freaks of Freak Street in Kathmandu!”
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