India is a Land of Diverse Cultures & Customs. This diversity gives birth to many forms of art and crafts, unique to Each State and Religion. All these forms of art showcase the immensely rich Indian cultural lineage that is envied the world over. One such form of diversified craft is “The Indian Embroidery”. Inspired by the cultural legacy of different regions of India, Embroidery of each state has a flavor of its own.
Kantha embroidery of West Bengal, Kashida from Kashmir, Phulkari from Punjab, Chikankari from Uttar Pradesh, Kasuti embroidery from Karnataka, are each unique in the type of needle and thread-work, fabrics and colours used. Humble Craftsmen from different parts of India have nurtured the Indian Embroideries with their hours of intricate Hand-work and passion, thus weaving high demands of Indian Embroidered fabrics in the global markets. Fashion designers from all over the World drool over the Indian Embroidered Art.
Some of the most famous embroidered fabrics which have inspired many designers from across the world are:
1- CHIKAN FABRIC
The Lucknowi muse has all royalty attached to it. The delicate embroidered fabric is said to have been first worn by Noor Jehan, the wife of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Though said to have flourished during the Mughal Era, traces to the art have been found as early as the 3rd century BC with Megasthenes mentioning the use of flowered muslins by Indians. Chikankari is artfully done on a variety of textile fabrics like muslin, silk, chiffon, organza, net, etc. From white thread embroidered on cool, pastel shades of light muslin and cotton garments to embroidery using coloured silk threads, Chikankari has evolved to meet the changing fashion trends and has become a global favourite.
The Embroidered craft made famous by the eastern regions of the Indian-subcontinent of Bengal, Tripura & Odisha. Traditionally Kantha embroidery was done by rural women, with soft dhotis and saris, with a simple running stitch along the edges. The craft known for its simplicity, has many uses including sarees, dupatta, shirts for men and women, bedding and other furnishing fabrics, mostly using cotton and silk. In some cases, the entire cloth is covered with running stitches, employing beautiful motifs of flowers, animals, birds and geometrical shapes and much more.
The Kashmiri fabric is one of the oldest forms of embroidery from India. The art draws its inspiration from nature especially the flora of the state. Kashida is primarily done on canvas with crystal threads, but Kashida also employs pashmina and leather threads. Apart from clothes, it's also used for home furnishings like bed spreads, sofa and floor cushions, and pillow covers. The entire Kashida pattern is made with one or two chain stiches on the base of silk, wool and cotton.
The folk embroidery of Punjab is definitely one of the first things which comes to mind when we think of the state. What started traditionally by the women of the domestic households in Punjab as a pastime, has now gained much popularity due to its unique embroidery style. Phulkari is done on hand-spun khaddar (a handloomed plain-weave cotton fabric). Stitching is done on the reverse side of the cloth so that the design takes shape in the front.
“Zardozi” or “Gold Embroidery” has existed in India since the time of Rigveda between 1500 and 1200 BC. It is an art of sewing gold and silver threads on a fabric. The fabric is also a rich textile like silk, satin or velvet base. The designs were created using pearls and precious stones as well to provide the art a complete royal look. Traditionally 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 silk thread.
6- MIRROR WORK
“Mirror” or “Shisha” work, is a popular craft from Gujarat and Rajasthan. Available in three types as hand blown shisha, machine cut shisha and shisha embroidery, this craft stands out because of its use of mirrors and colourful threads. This embroidered art is created by using small pieces of mirrors of various shapes and sizes, stitched in between colourful embroidery. While clothes embellished with mirror work are famous during Navratri “Garba” festivities, this type of work also adorns bags, accessories, decorative pieces and home decor.
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