Or Zardozi. An ancient and unique embroidery technique associated with the furnishings and garments royal and imperial courts and thought to have been brought to Moghal India via Persia (zar meaning ‘gold’, and dozi ‘embroidery’ in Persian). It is a type of appliqué embroidery, in which cowries, gemstones, precious and semi precious stones, sequins, glass and plastic beads, etc. are typically embroidered on silk, satin, brocade or velvet fabric with gold or silver wire (zari), and nowadays with metallic or synthetic threads.
The intricate designs are first sketched onto fabric, which is secured in a wooden frame, the adaa, and then embroidered in coloured silks or gold threads in a variety of stitches and styles with either a needle or an ari. The sewer uses both hands to stitch, one to take the needle through the fabric and the other to send it back up.
Zardozi embroidery creates shimmering textiles, which would have originally been used for furnishings as well as clothing. After a decline in production due to the rise of industrialisation, this craft is now witnessing a revival in India and abroad. Lucknow and Agra, Delhi, Kashmir, Mumbai, Varanesi and Hyderabad are centres of excellence for such work made into curtains, heavy coats, cushions and shoes for the home and international market. The weight and calibre of the zardoji with its lustrous gold and silver thread work brings a touch of elegance to many environments without being glitzy.