Lehenga Choli Salwar Kameez Sarees

Handwork, Embroidery and Embellishment

Once the right fabric prepares the base for the artisan, the real play begins with his handwork. By handwork, it is meant that it is not machine embroidered. The work is done with manual labor and patience. India has a great many number of embroidery styles having their roots in different provinces. The most common for salwars and kurtis, is the chikkankari of Lucknow, Rampur and Agra. Fine threads are used to embroider floral patterns usually cotton cloth. Hand-painting and Jamdani weave are the specialization of Faizabad.

Moving to the north of India, the embroidery most prominently practiced by the women of Punjab is the ‘phulkari’. ‘Phulkari’ means growing of flowers. It dates back to the vedic ages. There is the use of silk floss on simple Khadi cloth. Stitching done in different directions brings out the light-and-shadow effect. Some of the different styles of Phulkari are – chope, ghunghat bagh, suber, darshan-dwaar and chamba. In Bengal there is the famous Kantha Stitch that is mostly thought of in association with wedding sarees. The variations are – sujni kantha, archilata kantha, durjani kantha and rumal kantha. The run stitches are of various types. For example simple, mat style, maze style and tessellation style. Mirror-work over multi-colored thread embroidery is the contribution of the western India. It looks very colorful and befitting the gypsy culture where people enjoy wandering, singing and dancing in groups. There is the enigmatic jaali work of Jodhpur. Rajasthan has given to us the art of block printing and tie-and die (baandhni).
Places in and around Indore and Bhopal are renowned for their Zari and leather appliqué works; Sikkim, for leather appliqué.

The Aari or Zardosi embroidery has been in India since the Mughal regime (15th century). ‘Aar’ means needle. The zardosi stitch requires a wooden frame in order to keep the cotton cloth fixed and fully stretched so that the designs on paper can be traced and thereafter the needle could be firmly pushed through the cloth. The concept is borrowed from the idea of a stretched cot or khatia. This enables the craftsman to use both hands with adroitness and speed. After this work, beads, sequins or fine wires of real gold and silver are used for ornamentation.

Indian embroidery and artistry has always been seducing people from different corners of the world with its colors, individualities and ability to leave the gazers awe-struck at the skill which has come down from one generation to the other without a loosening of the chords of tradition.


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