Varanasi, also known as Benares or Kashi, is a city on the banks of the river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. It is famous for its socio-economic and religious importance all over the world. The city is equally well known for brocade-weaving which is a cluster based activity and is scattered all over Benaras and some adjacent districts. In the weaving communities of Varanasi, every small house, every street, every open space is taken up by men busy with kilometres of thread. The quality of its silk fabrics is considered the most refined in the country and a must as marriage gift.
For centuries, traditional designs that embellished sarees have been drawn on grid paper. For these drawings, a craftsman makes perforated cards - a kind of binary system, ancient picasa of the computer - that guides threads through the handloom according to the motif. These are called 'naksha patta'. Each card corresponds to a single line of weaving. A design generally involves a few hundred cards. These punched cards are characteristic of the Jacquard loom.
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