Conurbation of Zari Craftsmen at Varanasi

Pandey, Kirti is an architect.  She graduated in 2013, from the Faculty of Architecture, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She is currently working in New Delhi.

The lack of literacy, exposure and  finance has great effect on the women’s of society. They have walls of brick and cement but don't have fresh air to breath.  Usually they spend their days on terrace but it also fails when temperature changes. Apart from doing household things and other duties they are helping out their husband or son in zari business.


Apart from urban facts the regular schedule of a craftsman is very difficult and if we observe it properly then we can't say we are developing in a right way. Every craftsman used to wake up early in the morning, which is a part of city culture then they start their business by 8 am with the breakfast of chai (tea) and basi roti (or whatever food left over at night). Then they prolong to work for 12 hour with the bend backbone and continue eye pressure. They cannot afford lunch so just for change they used to eat gutka (tobacco) which cost 50 paisa, so comparative to Rs.50  lunch they have 50 paisa tobacco and according to them they save these rupees in one way and they can't afford lunch in other way. So if we think or calculate what kind of labor is this even working for 12 hours with so much body effort, one can't think about a proper meal. The people are not getting the sufficient nutrition which comes under nutrition law, so accordingly the whole basti is under nutrition or starving because of imbalance economy pattern and development in ignorance.

These craftsman work out for their whole life but at the end they don't have savings neither they are left eligible for any other industry and this "end period" is not 70 or 80 years of life but this is  only 40  or 50 years or max 60 . The reason is their forced lifestyle only.  working for so much hours  with eye pressure they lost their eyesight or  get high power glasses, bend backbone gives them nervous system disease and if they can't afford for a meal how they can afford for a proper medical treatment, the other way destruction is chewing tobacco which reduce their lifetime  so easily . Above all many youngsters are ill and suffering major problems due to under nutrition plus loaded with hard work.

The major default is this business is middle men profit making system which is ruining this artwork along with craftsman’s life. People are hardly aware about the amount of labor and effort putted behind the picture, they only see glamorous and sparkling products on which they use to bargain like usual trend.  as a result workers never get appreciation for  their work and buyers never understand the real beauty of product , it's just some exchange of money for them.


The products like one banarsi sari with normal zari work cost for 25 k in market, which craftsmen prepare in one week for 1500 -2000 excluding material cost. So if calculate whole investment it will come around max 5-8 k. Hence the difference of 16 k goes to a midman which is unacceptable in relation to craftsmen payment



The government should build some hub and policies for their direct exposure and involvement in market, so that they will also come to know about the demand and supply relation, their creativity cost and the latest market pattern. This in all way can enhance their lives and their circumstances.

The credibility and appreciation is source of energy to any art men, so this will work as boon for the survival of zari work with a considerable quality.

The concern issue is pattern of settlement, craftsmen are born in this society, they have lived their childhood in these street and the neighborhood essence has strong impact on their mind so as this reflect in their thought process or their approach towards life.  They will not likely to go large open spaces or green parks, they themselves form their gathering spaces which with the time get converts into a nodal point, supported by tea and tobacco stalls. The other important factor is these spaces are only dominated by men, there are no women interacting or activity spaces hence they are losing their social life and knowledge too. There should be some provision like backyard gardens, janan parks, youth centers or activity center which support and build their moral and social strength. The workspaces or the proposed residence should be according to their mind types because they are not professional like engineers or doctors they have critical and particular mindset which is reason of their creativity.


So some concepts like Conurbation or hub only for Zari craftsmen need to apply because not only Varanasi weavers but people form downtowns like Ramnagar, Chandauli etc are migrating for better payments. A hub should be developed without the midmen profit which should include following

  1. Workshops

  2. Export block

  3. Gallery or art block

  4. Recreational space for craftsmen

  5. Temporary exhibition areas for special occasions or thematic representations

  6. Library on craft and also for craftsmen

  7. Artist village or better we say guest house for artisans who are migrating from other villages or towns. So that they can live, complete their task and then they can move back. These apartments should have variations in designs according to bachelors, family and long and short tasks.  A small example of such development can be like in given layout.




Benefits of this layout are multiple. this layout have street oriented eyes which will not make it dead as workspaces are facing streets , which is just like their hometowns. They have courtyards which will please their eyes and will be climatologically helpful. Some having stairs have access to terrace and future extension possibilities.  Most important thing is layout around the

circle is making it a nodal point which will come as their meeting point. The backyard spaces covered by green and shaded by houses will be useful for women's and girls.

8:      Workspaces should promote craftsmen and customer interactions.

There are many weaver communities in Varanasi which we call "basti” in urban terms, because they are not develop like colonies. The problem like low finance, economy, in supply of infrastructure, middlemen involvement, low exposure of craftsman and no credibility and several other problems will turn these areas into slum by a decade. The most important loss due to economy is "education ", due to low finance they cannot


educate their next generation properly. Hence they are giving us a collective group of illiterate people and one can imagine what will be the dangerous result of this. This illiteracy is not only depleting environmental quality and lifestyle but simultaneously generating criminals, beggars and handicap skills human with proper body parts.

Hence development is not only to build physical infrastructure but to also develop the social and cultural aspects of city according to city demand in relation with future needs. The Varanasi city has endless beauty description but if we look into core we will find the ugliness in the beauty , the rhyming urban infrastructure is so conflicting with people issues, the simplicity has other

face of poverty, the richness of tradition is not just by rich class, the major contributors are the core people who has kept their  traditions alive like the "bunkers or weavers".

The Ganga river will no more pleasing if there will be  no boatman with "malhar" song. The Ghats will become dead if there will be no "chat and golgappe wala", the image of city will vanish if there will be no "pandas' on the Ghats in orange color dress and garland in hand.  So the city is rich not only by IT centers, buildings, malls or the


concrete jungle. The city has some character due to its residents who love being a part of city and their culture, a city is known for its richness due to the passion of people for their work, the city is heritage because of people preserving and valuing their ethics and heredity. 

Hence Craftsman or in local terms “karigars” are generally taken as low grade people and often neglected. But craftsman are very important in representing culture and craft value, of not the city only but the whole nation. Their upliftment is equally important as of other field. Their contribution is immoral & their art is treasure for the country. We have to resolve the definition of development.


Double heighted, semi covered area for temporary exhibition 


  1. www.indian-embroidery.com. [Online] [Cited: 10.10.2012.]

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varanasi. [Online] [Cited: 10.10.2012.]

  3. Gupta, Divya. Heritage development plan for Varanasi by INTACH. Architectural Heritage Division. varanasi : INTACH, 2011.

  4. Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. Varanasi : s.n., 2010.

  5. Singh, amrita and Naik, Shailaja D. Status of Banaras weavers: A profile. Department of Textiles and Apparel Designing, College of Rural Home Science, University of Agricultural Sciences, Karnataka : s.n., 2008.

  6. Ltd., Planner India. Detailed Project Report for the Proposed Development of navigation in river Varuna at varanasi. 2010.


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