Zari is a gold or silver thread traditionally used throughout India, Pakistan and Persia within weaving and for surface embroidery to create the finest silks. In the past the threads were made of fine gold or silver, today they are made with a cotton or polyester core wrapped in very fine metal foil.
Benares, or Varanesi silks are woven with Zari yarn, creating the most highly renowned, beautifully ornate brocades. It is also used in zardozi work, which is decorative embroidery worked onto silk. Special saris for ceremony and for weddings may be so heavily embroidered that zari work is more visible than the silk fabric.
Despite economic pressure to mechanise, hand worked zari cloth is still woven and embroidered as it once was in places such as Surat in Gujerat and in Kolkata.