Embroidery, the art of working raised designs in threads of silk,
cotton, gold or silver upon the surface of woven cloth with the help
of a needle, has been known in India from very early times. Gujarat
and Rajasthan boast of a mind-boggling range in embroideries.
Kantha of Bengal,
zardosi of Delhi,
of Punjab, the gold thread embroidery and
gota work of
Rajasthan, the zari work of Hyderabad, the
work and metal-wire embroidery are some of the brilliant specimens
of Indian embroidery.
Work is an integral part of the decorative needlework of Pipli
village in Orissa and some parts of Gujarat. It is based on
patchwork, in which pieces of coloured and patterned fabric is
finely cut in different sizes and shapes and sewn together on a
plain background to form a composite piece. They are found in
brilliant colours and are highly ornamented with motifs, which
include human forms, animals and vehicles.
Originally parasols, canopies and pillows were made for the
Rath Yatra but now many objects of daily use like lamp shades,
garden umbrellas and bed covers have been introduced.
Aribharat: The embroidery of
Kutch is very picturesque and has the quality of jewellery. The best
known is aribharat, which is named after
ari, a hook,
plied from the top but fed by silk thread from below with the
material spread out on a frame. This movement creates loops, which
are repeated to form a line of chain stitches. It is also known as
Mochibharat, as it used to be done by
bagh is an
offshoot of phulkari and almost always follows a geometric
pattern, with green as the basic colour. The embroidery is worked
into khaddar (coarse cotton cloth) with silk thread.
Sometimes two or three baghs will be stitched together to for
Banjara: The embroidery of the
Lambada gypsy tribes of Andhra Pradesh,
banjara is a mix of
applique with mirrors and
beadwork. Bright red, yellow, black and white coloured cloth is laid
in bands and joined with a white crisscross stitch.
Chikankari: The Chikan work of Lucknow involves delicate and
subtle embroidery done in white thread on varieties of cloth such as
(fine cotton), voil or polyester.. It owes its origin to Nur Jehan.
Intricate and complex, this work is similar to what is
commonly known as shadow work. Simplicity, regularity and
evenness of stitches, combined with very fine thread-knots are the
highlights of Chikan work. The different varieties of
stitches include tepchi, pechni, bakhia, zanjira, phanda and
murri. The Chikan
kurtas are very popular.
Crewel: Kashmir is known for
(woollen rugs) with big floral embroidery in cheerful colours.
Crewel embroidery is the same as chain stitch and is usually done
with an awl (a small pointed tool for making holes) and is worked
from underneath the fabric rather than above.
gold embroidery of Jaipur, known as
gota-work, is an
intricate form of appliqu� with patterns of amazing richness, worked
out in minute detail in fine gold thread. Small pieces of
ribbon are applied onto the fabric with the edges sewn down to
create elaborate patterns. Lengths of wide, golden ribbons are
similarly stitched on the edges of the fabric to create an effect of
gold zari work. The
gota method is commonly used for
women's formal costumes. Khandela in Shekhawati is best known for
its manufacture. Kinari or edging refers to the art of
fringed border decoration. It is usually practised by the Muslim
Kantha is a kind of patchwork embroidery, typical of Bihar and
West Bengal, in which the ground consists of remnants of white
cotton saris, while the threads used for the embroidery are picked
from old materials. In kantha, the thread is carried over the
surface in small stitches to produce a series of dotted lines. To
these are added, from the reverse side, longer floats that are
mostly used as decorative elements and for filling in the bodies of
the figures. Floral, animal and bird motifs embroidered on both
cotton and silk are extremely popular.
It is a form of raised
zari metallic thread
embroidery created by sewing flat stitches on cotton padding. The
technique is commonly used for bridal and formal costumes as well as
for velvet coverings, tent hangings, curtains and the coverings of
animal carts and temple chariots.
Kashida: This is the typical
embroidery work of Bihar and is done in different styles.
Kasuti: This is typical of the
Dharwar region of Karnataka. Kasuti is delicate single thread
embroidery done on handloom saris. It is done in two styles called
murgi and has a wide range of motifs
consisting of temples, peacocks, elephants, flowering trees and
geometric forms spread across the sari.
Kathi: This rural art of Gujarat is attributed to the
nomadic tribes of the
kathi. The work is distinguished by a very unusual technique
in which chain stitch embroidery is combined with
work and enhanced by small mirror-like insertions. The embroidery is
characterised in particular by its wealth of forms and motifs. Many
of the kathi embroideries depict Hindu themes.
Mirror work: The women of
Rajasthan and Gujarat traditionally carry embroidered
(frieze), dowry bags, shawls, cholis and
part of their dowry. This work can be identified by its use of tiny
mirrors with colourful threads that shape floral and figurative
Patti Ka Kaam:
It is the exquisite embroidery work of Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh.
Phulkari: The Punjab
phulkari is of a spectacular nature. The word means flowering
and it creates a flowery surface. Strangely enough, the stitch
itself is the simple darning like the damask, done either by
counting the threads or with utmost care, since a single miss can
spoil the whole pattern. Originally, the designs seem to have been
predominantly geometrical but the phulkari now being produced
for sale has often a lotus in the centre and stylised animals,
birds, worked in harmoniously with flowers. The design is fed into
the cloth from the reverse side using darning needles, one thread at
a time, leaving a long stitch below to form the basic pattern. The
stitching is done in a vertical and horizontal pattern as well as
variations from this standard format, so that when the phulkari is
finally complete the play of light on its shiny surface can do
wonders. Stitching is usually done with silk thread, though
occasionally cotton threads are also used. The best work in
is found in Haryana in Gurgaon, Karnal, Hissar, Rohtak and Delhi.
These are colourful embroidered
cloth-hangings typical of Nathdwara in Rajasthan.
This is a typical embroidery work of the nomadic
Rabari tribes of the Kutch region.
The embroidered motifs are generally camels, royal fans, elephants,
scorpions and women bearing water.
It is a combination of weaving and
embroidery and was once a high status symbol in Manipur.
Zardozi or Zari: Zardozi or Zari or
kalabattu is an
embroidery work done in metal
Varanasi, Lucknow, Surat, Ajmer, Bhopal and Hyderabad are
important centres for zari work. In this work, metal ingots
are melted and pressed through perforated steel sheets to convert
into wires. They are then hammered to the required thinness. Plain
wire is called badla, and when wound round a thread, it is
called kasav. Smaller spangles are called
tiny dots made of badla are called
mukaish. Zardozi, a
more elaborate version of zari, involves the use of gold
threads, spangles, beads, seed pearls, wire,