Overview of Zardozi Embroidery in India

Last Updated on 22/12/2020

Overview of Zardozi Embroidery in India

R.S. Balakumar
Associate Professor
Dept of Fashion Design & Arts
Hindustan University, Chennai, India
Email: rsbalakumar1953@gmail.com


Zardozi embroidery is splendid metal embroidery, or called as the surface ornamentation. To embellish the whole costumes of the Kings and the royals in India, this Zardozi embroidery played a vital role to enhance the aesthetic appeal to their costumes. Zardozi embroidery work involves making complicated designs, using the pure gold and silver threads. Moreover affix to the brilliant of the work are the studded pearls and precious stones. Initially, the embroidery was done with pure silver wires and real gold leaves. Anyhow, today, craftsmen make use of a combination of copper wire, with a golden or silver polish, and a silk thread to make this work with the lesser cost.

Zardozi embroidery on blouse
Fig: Zardozi embroidery on blouse

Zardozi is a Persian word that means sewing with gold string. Zar meaning gold and Dozi meaning embroidery. Zardozi accomplished its peak in the 17th century, under the support of Mughal Emperor Akbar, under the rule of Aurangzeb, the royal promotion stopped and this led to the decline of the craft. Since the cost was considerably high and raw materials quite rare, craftsmen could not take on with the embroidery on their own.

Zardozi embroidery has been in reality in India from the time of the Rig Veda period. It succeeded during the Mughal Emperor, Akbar, but later a loss of royal support and industrialization led to its decline.

Today, Zardozi embroidery is very much prevailing in the Indian cities of Lucknow, Farrukhabad, Chennai and Bhopal. In 2013 the Geographical Indication Registry (GIR) accorded the Geographical Indication (GI) registration to the Lucknow Zardozi – the world-renowned textile embroidery from Lucknow.

The Zardozi products manufactured in areas in Lucknow and six surrounding districts of:

  1. Barabanki,
  2. Unnao,
  3. Sitapur
  4. Rae Bareli,
  5. Hardoi and
  6. Amethi

Amethi became a brand and can carry a registered logo to confirm their accuracy of artesan work. One of the famous market in the field of manufacturing embroidery is Farrukhabad. Rehmani embroidery work is one of the most famous embroidery manufacturing concern in The city of Farrukhabad.

This is a heavy and more elaborate embroidery work which uses varieties of gold threads, spangles, beads, seed pearls, wire, and gota. It is used to embellish wedding outfits, heavy coats, cushions, curtains, canopies, animal trappings, bags, purses, belts, and shoes. The material on which this kind of embroidery is done is usually heavy silk, velvet and satin.

The kind of stitches found are:

  1. Salma-sitara,
  2. Gijai,
  3. Badla,
  4. Katori,
  5. Seed pearls, & among others.

The main centres are in Delhi, Jaipur, Banaras, Agra, and Surat. The old teach the young and the skill continues from generation to generation in their native place.

This embroidery is a costly one. More amount to be spent on raw material purchase like gold and silver thread and also necessary pearls, gem- stones to be purchased. Even now in the Indian wedding ceremonies the bridal saree blouses are made through this type of embroidery work by the rich people in north and as well as the south India.

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