India is a country rich in culture and heritage. These cultures bring in the treasure of arts and crafts. One of these beautiful crafts is the Indian embroidery- envied by the world. The fine threads woven into one another, adorned with pearls, beads, and other embellishments, make intricate patterns on the fabrics. And this is what we call embroidery. The following are some of the most beautiful embroideries of India.
This embroidery prospered during the era of Mughal emperor Akbar. The word Zardosi comes from two Persian words- ‘zar’ or ‘Zarin’ means gold, and Dozi means sewing. Zardozi is intricate and heavy embroidery on silk, satin, and velvet fabrics. The designs are often made from gold and silver threads. Perls and precious stones are also added to the work. Originally it was used by royals. In history, we can see its use in walls of royal tents, wall hangings, and paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses.
The embroidery has its roots in the lands of Punjab. Phulkari means floral work. The designs under this embroidery are usually flowers but also include motifs and geometric patterns. Phulkari is known for the use of darn stitch on the wrong side of coarse cotton cloth with colored silk threads. This embroidery adorns dupattas, Kurtis, stoles, shawls, etc. and is loved for the bright colors.
The art comes from the house of Nawabs- Lucknow. Chikankari is a delicate and artfully done hand embroidery on fabrics like muslin, silk, chiffon, organza, etc. giving them a rich and sophisticated look. This embroidery began as a white-on-white work and further escalated to a white thread embroidered on cool pastels shades. It includes backstitches, chain stitches, and hemstitches. The tale says that Noor Jahan, the wife of Mughal emperor Jehangir introduced Persian art in India in the 17th century, and that’s how Chikankari embroidery came to India.
4. Gota Patti
This embroidery is a forte of Rajasthan. Gota is a gold and silver lace made up of metal-coated yarn, while the wrapping yarn includes ribbons of fabrics like cotton and polyester. Small pieces of zari ribbons applied onto the fabrics with edges sewn down form more elaborate patterns. Gota work is seen in traditional Indian wear, turbans, rakhis, torans, and Juttis. Some of the most popular Gota Patti designs are elephants and horses, peacocks, and florals.
This is one of the oldest forms for embroidery from the valleys of Jammu and Kashmir. The embroidery makes use of thick colored threads and beads to create different patterns. The inspiration for the motifs under Khasida is the natural beauty of Kashmir and includes flowers, leaves, vines, and birds. Mostly a chain type stitch is seen in the work. Khasida embellishes rugs, cushion covers, bedspreads, and shawls. There are many other intrinsic styles like sozni work, papier-mâché work, and hook or aari work which come under this embroidery.
For this work, small pieces of mirrors of various shapes are fixed on the fabric through embroidery. The bright colored fabrics bring-out the real essence of the mirror work. This embroidery is popular in Gujarati and Rajasthani outfits. The mirror work is traced back to 17th century Iran and is brought to us by the travelers during the Mughal eras. Originally coins, beetles, and silver were used as the elements to give a reflective effect on the fabrics. Shisha embroidery adorns sarees, skirts, bags, etc.
This India embroidery is one of the most intricate and time-consuming embroideries. The Aari work is famous for its fine and delicate thread work and enhances the essence of hand embroidery. The name of the needle used is Aari, from which the embroidery derives its name as Aari work. It makes use of the finest of threads, beads, and stones. The motifs of Aari work include flowers, leaves, vines, and animals. This embroidery embellishes Chania-cholis, dupattas, and ghagras.
This tradition of hand embroidery is living proof of the talent and skills of artisans of India. Each thread defines the beauty and essence of different cultural practices. Today, Indian embroideries have the world fawning upon them, and we should preserve this art form and pass it on to the generations.