Zardozi embroidery is beautiful metal embroidery, which once used to embellish the attire of the Kings and the royals in India. It was also used to adorn walls of the royal tents, scabbards, wall hangings and the paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses. Zardozi embroidery work involves making elaborate designs, using gold and silver threads. Further adding to the magnificence of the work are the studded pearls and precious stones.
Zardosi embroidery has been in existence in India from the time of the
Rig Veda. There are numerous instances mentioning the use of zari
embroidery as ornamentation on the attire of gods. Initially, the
embroidery was done with pure silver wires and real gold leaves.
However, today, craftsmen make use of a combination of copper wire, with
a golden or silver polish, and a silk thread. This is because there is
hardly any availability of gold/silver on such a large scale as before.
Main Center of Zardozi Embroidery in India
Zardosi embroidery work is mainly a specialty of Lucknow, Bhopal,
Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Kashmir, Mumbai, Ajmer and Chennai.
History of Zardozi Embroidery in India
The word 'Zardozi' is made up of two Persian terms, Zar meaning gold
and Dozi meaning embroidery. A Persian embroidery form, Zardosi attained
its summit in the 17th century, under the patronage of Mughal Emperor
Akbar. Under the rule of Aurangzeb, the royal patronage stopped and this
led to the decline of the craft. Since the cost was high and raw
materials quite rare, craftsmen could not carry on with the embroidery
on their own.
Many craftsmen left Delhi and went to the courts of Rajasthan and
Punjab in search of work. With the 18th and 19th century bringing
industrialization, the craft suffered another setback. It was only after
receiving independence in the year 1947 that the Indian government
undertook steps to promote Zari embroidery.
Method of Zardozi Embroidery
The process of doing Zardozi embroidery starts with the craftsmen
sitting cross-legged around the Addaa, the wooden framework, with their
tools. The tools include curved hooks, needles, salmaa pieces (gold
wires), sitaaras (metal stars), round-sequins, glass & plastic
beads, dabkaa (thread) and kasab (thread). The second step in the
process is to trace out the design on the cloth, if possible fabrics
like silk, satin, velvet, etc. The fabric is then stretched over the
wooden frame and the embroidery work begins. Needle is used to pull out
each zardozi element and then, it is integrated into the basic design by
pushing the needle into the fabric.