Ten of the most celebrated Indian embroideries

Ten of the most celebrated Indian embroideries

Indian fabrics are famous worldwide for their intricate and creative embroidery designs. Even with the passing of time, Indian embroideries have adapted and managed to remain relevant and in trend, proving their evergreen nature. Each type has a rich cultural history and holds importance in their own special ways. One common thing about all of them though, is the fact that they all make a statement in their own ways.

Walk through some of the prominent embroideries of India, and settle on your looks for the upcoming festive season

1.  Chikankari

This style is said to have originated from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, - introduced by Noor Jahan, the wife of Jahangir. What started out as white embroidery on a white cloth, Chikankari embroidery is now found in a variety of colors. The technique involves stitching on patterns traced on cloth like chiffon, cotton, silk, etc. The embroidery initially depicted motifs of nature. This look goes well for both daily wear and special occasions. This embroidery can be found on sarees, lehengas, palazzos and popularly on kurtas. ``Lucknowi Kurta” is another term for Chikankari Kurtas, owing to its origins.

Chikankari embroidery

2.  Banjara

Originating through the nomadic Banjara tribes, this style of embroidery has travelled through many regions of the country, having many variations introduced in the designs and technique. Banjara embroidery uses motifs in cross-stitched geometric patterns. Chain stitches and overlaid stitches are some types of stitches used for these designs. Beads and mirrors are then used as adornments. Banjara fabrics provide a vibrance to your ethnic outfits. Along with dresses, lehengas, suits, this embroidery is also found on accessories like bags. These bags go well even with western outfits.

Banjara embroidery

3.  Zari/Zardosi

Zari is said to have been introduced by the Mughals in the 16th century. It is the very form of opulence. The term Zardosi is coined by Persian for gold (Zari) and embroidery (dosi). Zari is made by using metallic threads on silk and velvet. Threads used were originally gold or silver, and the fabric adorned precious stones and pearls, turning these into luxury items. The introduction of gold-colored plastic threads has since made Zari fabric more affordable. This style of embroidery is seen on sarees, lehengas, suits, blouses etc., and is a go-to for festive occasions, for their royal look and essence.

zari embroidery

4.  Phulkari

Originating from Punjab, Phulkari embroidery dates back to the 15th century, and even has mentions in folklore. The base cloth used is often handspun khadi, and this dullness is then completely engulfed with embroidered designs. All designs follow a geometric pattern, with motifs of nature, using darn stitches for smooth threadwork. In recent times, the base cloth is often switched out for chiffon, cotton and georgette. Phulkari kurtas have the ideal casual look and can be easily paired with jeans and accessories. Depending on the manner of accessorizing, Phulkari fabrics can be used for both daily wear and special occasions.

Phulkari embroidery

5.  Gota

Gota, from Rajasthan uses Zari to trace elaborate patterns and textures. It was initially done with gold and silver wires and woven into satin or twill weaves. Bandhini and georgette fabrics are a popular choice for Gota, which is added by hemming or backstitching. Gota embroidery might look heavy and intricate, but it is incredibly light. Dupattas and Sarees carry this style well. With many varieties in colors, designs and motifs, Gota embroidery makes for the perfect ethnic look.

gota embroidery

6.  Kantha

This style originates from the Eastern states of India like Odisha, West Bengal, Tripura etc. Kantha embroidery was mainly implemented by rural women. Flowers, animals, geometric patterns, plants are some of the motifs used on fabrics. As the embroidery is done by stitching on the cloth, the cloth often has a wrinkled look. This style of embroidery is perfect for home decor items like bedsheets, blankets, cushion covers etc. It is also seen on sarees and dupattas. Kantha embroidery has an effortless yet elegant look, making it appropriate for different types of occasions.

7.  Shisha/Mirror Work

Mirrorwork was brought in through many states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat etc. Varying in style in different regions, Mirror Work was originally done with Mica. Mirrors (of various sizes and shapes) are sewn into clothing using a particular cross stitch, and the fabric is then embellished with additional cross stitches to enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the garment. Mirror Work is a popular choice for clothing and accessories, it has managed to remain in fashion trends despite the constantly changing climate.

Shisha/Mirror Work embroidery

8.  Toda

Toda embroidery comes from the Toda tribes of Tamil Nadu. Toda or ‘pohor’ in the Toda language, means flower. It is mainly utilized by the women in the tribe. Toda needlework typically shows elements of nature or heavenly bodies in a geometric design on a coarse white cloth using black and red woolen threads. Reverse stitching creates a design that appears to emerge from the fabric and gives the item a rich appearance when done with a single stitch darning needle. The style is usually seen on shawls worn by the people of the tribe, and has since been introduced with sarees and kurtis.

Toda embroidery

9.  Kashmiri

Kashmiri embroidery is also known as Kishida embroidery, it was originally woven and embroidered by people of that clan. Cloths with Kashmiri embroideries are usually dark- colored, woolen, suitable for the winters and the bright-colored clothes are made for the summers. The designs use one stitch, and the whole pattern is complete with a few stitches. Designs used mostly revolve around nature. Kashmiri embroidery is also prominent in Pashmina shawls, which are reputed for their warmth and regal effect.

Kashmiri Kashida embroidery

10.  Aari

The term aari comes from the sharp hooked needle used for embroidery. Its origins with the Mughals, Aari is mainly practiced in Rajasthan, Kashmir and Lucknow. The fine embroidery in Aari is created by the hooked needle to make chain stitch loops. Beads and sequins are then used as adornments. The highly detailed nature of Aari makes for an immensely rich fabric. Sarees with this style of embroidery are often paired with a plain blouse. Proving comfort with style, the Aari embroidery gives a regal look.

Aari embroidery

Indian traditional wear is famed worldwide for their intricate, rich designs, and it is truly the embroideries that put it together. One can tell how there is a ton of work that goes behind these traditional forms of embroidery. Along with being fashion, embroidery is also art, art that needs to be celebrated and preserved for the times to come. Ethnic Indian wear has never been out of trend, and this just goes to showcase the evergreen nature of Indian embroideries.

– Posted by Bharat Sarna

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