The River of Gold

for Swati & Sunaina Gold
2022 | Banaras, India

‘The River of Gold’ is a dupatta created for an exhibition- Sutr Santati, celebrating the 75 years of Indian Independence, displayed at The National Museum, New Delhi.

Weaving History of Banaras

Banaras has an ancient history of textile production. In the ancient time, Banaras was famous for the weaving of cotton textiles, but slowly switched over to silk weaving.

Around the 14th century, the weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold and silver threads became the speciality of Banaras. The most exquisite brocades in silk and gold were woven by the weavers of Banaras on pit looms.

The weaving tradition of Banaras has been moulded by influences from various foreign cultures and textiles. Some of these weaving techniques like Gyasar, Rangkaat, Tanchoi and Dampach were researched and revived by the brand over the years.


This textile is an ode to Indian rivers, evoking the associations water lifelines have had in the shaping of textile cultures in the subcontinent. It brings together Rangkaat and the Jamdani – two special weaving traditions of this city – as an offering to the Ganga, on the banks of which the city has achieved its renown. Both as a spiritual symbol as well as an important conduit for trade, Banaras’s history is synonymous with that of this river.

The textile’s design is based on a set of drawings by Sunaina Jalan. Topographical markings are expressed in bold, abstract patterns, a first such attempt in contemporary aesthetics in Rangkaat. With a play of earthy colours and shimmering gold, a spray of small flowers in butas like the Rajnigandha or the tuberose, Malli or the jasmine and Aparajita or the butterfly pea flower, take forward the brand’s recurring use of floral imagery in a fresh way.

Rangkaat in Hindi means to ‘cut colour’.

It represents a niche tradition in Banaras which employs the complementary weave along with brocading. Known for colour blocked patterns, the zari here becomes both a decorative as well as a functional element, merging these patterns in an effortless manner. Jamdani is a tradition of discontinuous supplementary weave which is common to Bengal, Banaras and Andhra Pradesh, among other regions of the country. For a rangkaat layout, topographical drawings were a befitting source of inspiration. Abstract forms with a fusion of earthy colours, bred an idea to truly celebrate the technique of rangkaat and create a challenging non-repeat pattern for a one of- a-kind piece on the looms of Banaras.

The layout of the exhibit is an aerial view of the river system of the Indian subcontinent. The main rivers are highlighted with the use of pure zari. The outlines of rivers showcase a play of dark and light, thick and thin, textured and smooth qualities.