One of the beautiful examples of the Indian tradition of weaving gold with fabrics is kimkhab. Meaning the fabric of dreams, kimkhab is a heavy brocade woven with silk and gold threads mostly in the city of Banaras.


The pattern in kimkhab looks as though embroidered on top of an already rich silk. The silk fabrics have colored silk or gold threads interwoven to form the most attractive designs. The gold thread is called kalabattu. It is a specially prepared thread of silk with a metallic mounting of gilded silver. A thin bar of silver is beaten and drawn through a succession of holes in an iron plate. Each hole is smaller than the preceding one. This process is followed until a very fine wire is obtained. This wire is slightly flattened and twisted spirally around the silk thread.

Kimkhabs were earlier made entirely from fine gold or silver threads. During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, some were set with precious stones, and were used in making canopies and trappings as seen in the late Mughal paintings.



There are various grades for kimkhabs which are determined by the number of kalabattu threads repeated in a given space. For example ekpara represents ten kalabattu threads in a running inch. Similarly, there is dopara, tinpara, chaupara and even chhapra.


The price of kimkhab is also determined by the degree of gilding on the kalabattu thread. An ekratia contains one rati (7.5 grams approximately) a doratia, two ratis and so on.