Kashi, Banaras, Varanasi - the many names of one of the oldest inhabited cities of the world whose textile links have been and remain an intrinsic part of the city. From the c. 2nd century B.C when Patanjal, the great grammarian in his text Mahabhasya mentions kasika textiles as being more precious than others to references in ancient Buddhist and Jain literary sources that mention Kashi as an important weaving and trading centre, the glimpses continue through the ages and up to the present times the unchallengable links remain.
One of the textiles that writers and traders – from the principle history of Mahmud of Gazi, Tarikh –us –Subuktiginwritten by Baihaqiin in the 10th century to the 16th century merchant and trader, Ralph Fitch as well as the famous French jeweler, Jean Baptiste Tavernier exclaimed about was the legendaryKinkhab -the jewel like cloth of gold and silverliterally meaning 'little dreams' in Urdu.With over a hundred thousand people engaged in both the weaving and the pre and postloom activity the economy of Banaras remains inextricable connected to the loom using intricate techniques – Kadwa, Fekwa, Katraua, NalPherwa to name a few.
The continuing familial handloom traditions with weaves whose structures, techniques and physical quality remains related to the past can be seen in the 6th generation of the family that wove the cloth of gold that were displayed at the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition inaugurated by Queen Victoria which received over 5.5 million visitors. Located in Pi...
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