India is well-known for embroideries which range from the Aari to Chikankari and the local ones such as Punjabi, Kashmiri and Rajasthani among others. One such beautiful form is the Zardozi work based on metal embroidery comprising two words- ‘zar’ (gold) and ‘dozi’ (embroidery’) which involves sewing gold and silver threads on fabrics to give a marvellous design. Termed as a ‘royal’ design, it was adorned by the Kings and even used on their curtains, wall hangings and tents.
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Zardozi gives a spectacular modernistic look which makes it hard to believe the fact that its existence is mentioned in the Vedic books Ramayan and Mahabharata. Mughal emperor Akbar promoted this embroidery during his rule which led to its flourishment. However, the use of Gold and Silver was expensive and hence was replaced by synthetic threads and copper wires which were polished in gold and silver.
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In the picture above Parineeti Chopra adorns a beautiful Zardosi embroidered lehenga.
This embroidery technique is a simple four step process involving the following:
- The first requirement is laying out the design on a sheet of trace paper and based on this design the holes are made.
- The next step would be tracing this design sheet onto the fabric.
- Now, this fabric is stretched on a wooden frame and held tightly to provide a uniform tension.
- Finally, the embroidery process is carried out with the help of a specialised needle called ‘Ari’ which is made out of wood.
This procedure is somewhat the same across all states of India and does not involve any modern types of machinery since this process has preserved over the time.
During the reign of the Mughals, Zardozi majorly centred in Lucknow but slowly spread to Agra, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kashmir and Kolkata. With the advancement of time, it spread to almost all parts of the country while Lucknow remained as the central hub. Renowned designers have produced splendid outfits creating magic out of this artwork. Here’s a look at Sabyasachi’s collection.
Manish Malhotra’s designer skirt with Zardozi embroidery is shown below:
While Zardozi has spread all over India with cities like Lucknow where this tradition is followed in families with even the children learning this artwork at a very young age, it is especially famous in countries like Kuwait, Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In fact, it has become significant in Persian handicrafts having names such as zar-douzi and kam-douzi. Since Zardozi has a high amount of embroidery on the surface, it is always advisable to avoid strong washing and prefer dry cleaning.
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Zardozi has struck a chord internationally with its impeccable designs and flawless artwork. And if you are tempted to shop for it then do check out the embroidery shops in Lad Bazar, Charminaar in Hyderabad, Kinari Bazar in Delhi and the ‘Rehmani Embroidery’ in the city of Farukkhabad.