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Indian embroidery is a rich and important aspect of the country’s cultural heritage, and its continued practice and evolution demonstrate the enduring significance of this art form.

Indian embroidery has a diverse history dating back thousands of years. Embroidery was practiced in India during the Indus Valley Civilization, which existed from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE. The art of embroidery was further developed during the Mughal period in the 16th century, and it has continued to evolve over the centuries.

Embroidery has played a significant role in Indian culture, particularly in the realm of fashion. Indian Embroidery is used to embellish garments such as saris, salwar kameez, and lehengas, and it is also used to create home decor items such as wall hangings and cushion covers.

Salwar Kameez by Kashmirica
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Types of Indian Embroidery

Let’s dwell on different types of Indian Embroidery and their techniques used throughout India.

1. Banjara Embroidery

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BANJARA EMBROIDERY

Origin of Banjara Embroidery

Banjara embroidery is a form of traditional Indian embroidery that originated from the nomadic Banjara tribes in the state of Rajasthan. The Banjara people are known for their colorful attire and intricate needlework, which reflects their unique culture and lifestyle.

Techniques and methods

Banjara embroidery is created using a combination of stitches, including chains, herringbone, and satin stitches, and is often embellished with mirrors, beads, and coins. The embroidery is usually worked on cotton or silk fabrics, and the designs are inspired by nature, animals, and geometric shapes. This Indian embroidery is traditionally done by women and is passed down from generation to generation, with each family adding their own unique style and flair.

Use of Banjara Embroidery

Banjara embroidery is also often used to decorate clothing, bags, and home décor items, and has gained popularity in the fashion industry in recent years.

Style of Banjara Embroidery

The style of Banjara embroidery is bold, vibrant, and intricate, and is characterized by its use of bright colors and intricate patterns. This Indian embroidery is often used to create large, bold designs, such as peacock motifs or floral patterns, and is known for its use of mirrors and beads, which add a reflective and sparkling effect to the finished product.

2. Aari Embroidery

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FLORAL MOTIF PATTERN IN AARI EMBROIDERY

Aari embroidery is a traditional form of Indian embroidery that originated in the state of Rajasthan. It is also known as crewel embroidery or hook embroidery. Aari embroidery is done using a specialized needle called an aari, which is a long, pointed needle with a hook at one end. The aari is used to create intricate and delicate designs on fabric, which are then filled in with colorful threads.

Origin of Aari Embroidery

Aari embroidery is believed to have originated in the Mughal era of India, around the 16th century. It was initially practiced by skilled artisans who worked on the clothes and accessories of the royal families. It became a popular form of embroidery among common people as well.

Techniques and Methods

Aari embroidery is characterized by its fine and intricate designs, which often feature floral patterns and geometric shapes. This Indian embroidery is done on fabrics such as silk, cotton, and velvet, and is used to adorn a variety of items such as sarees, salwar kameez, dupattas, and home decor items like cushion covers and curtains.

Style of Aari Embroidery

The style of aari embroidery has evolved over time, and today there are many variations of this traditional craft. Some of the popular styles include Kashmiri aari embroidery, which is known for its elaborate designs and use of vibrant colors.

Many fashion designers and artisans are now incorporating aari embroidery into their designs, creating a fusion of traditional and contemporary styles.

3. Chikankari Embroidery

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CHIKANKARI EMBROIDERY

Chikankari embroidery is a delicate and intricate embroidery style that originated in the city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, India. It is also known as chikan embroidery or chikankari work.

Origin of Chikankari Embroidery

The exact origin of chikankari embroidery is unclear, but it is believed to have been introduced in India during the Mughal era, around the 16th century. It is said to have been introduced by a Mughal Empress, Noor Jahan, who was fond of intricate embroidery work.

Techniques and Methods

Chikankari embroidery involves hand-stitching on cotton fabric with white thread, creating intricate and detailed designs. This Indian embroidery is done on a variety of fabrics such as muslin, silk, and chiffon. The designs are first drawn onto the fabric with a pencil or a charcoal stick, and then the embroidery work is done using a needle and thread.

Use of Chikankari Embroidery

Chikankari embroidery is known for its subtle elegance and timeless beauty. It is often used to embellish traditional Indian wear such as sarees, salwar kameez, and kurta pajamas. This Indian embroidery work is also used on home furnishings such as bedspreads, tablecloths, and cushion covers.

4. Gota Embroidery

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GOTA EMBROIDERY

Gota embroidery is a type of Indian embroidery that is known for its intricate designs and use of metallic thread. It is a popular form of embroidery that is used to decorate clothing, home decor items, and accessories.

Origin of Gota Embroidery

Gota embroidery has its roots in Rajasthan, India. The word “gota” means “ribbon” or “strip” in Hindi, and the embroidery involves attaching thin strips of metal to fabric using a needle and thread.

Techniques and Methods

The technique was originally used to decorate wedding clothes and other formal garments and was traditionally done by hand.

Style of Gota Embroidery

Gota embroidery is characterized by the use of metallic thread, as well as embellishments like sequins, beads, and mirrors. The embroidery designs often feature floral patterns, paisley motifs, and other decorative elements. There are different styles of Gota embroidery, including, Zardozi, Aari, Tepchi, and Mukaish. 

Use of Gota Embroidery

Gota embroidery is still a popular form of Indian embroidery and can be found on a variety of items including sarees, dupattas, and home decor items. It is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of India and continues to be admired for its beauty and craftsmanship.

5. Phulkari Embroidery

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PUNJAB PHULKARI

Phulkari embroidery is a traditional style of embroidery that originated in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. The word “phulkari” means “flower work” in Punjabi, and this Indian embroidery is known for its vibrant colors and intricate floral designs.

Origin of Phulkari Embroidery

The exact origin of phulkari embroidery is not known, but it is believed to have been practiced for centuries by women in the Punjab region. It was traditionally done on handmade cotton or silk fabrics, using silk threads in a variety of colors.

Techniques and Methods

Phulkari embroidery is typically done using a simple running stitch, which creates a series of small, straight lines that form intricate designs. This Indian embroidery is often done on the wrong side of the fabric, which creates a subtle, shaded effect on the front.

Style of Phukari Embroidery

There are several different styles of phulkari embroidery, each with its own unique characteristics. One of the most popular styles is the bagh (garden) phulkari, which features dense floral designs covering the entire fabric. Another style is the chope (square) phulkari, which features large, square-shaped designs that are often arranged in a grid pattern.

6. Zardosi Embroidery

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ZARDOSI DABKA EMBROIDERY

Zardosi embroidery, also known as “Zar-douzi,” is a type of metal embroidery that originated in India. The word “Zardosi” is derived from two Persian words, “Zar” meaning gold, and “douzi” meaning embroidery, which translates to “gold embroidery.”

Origin of Zardosi Embroidery

The history of Zardosi embroidery can be traced back to the Mughal era in India, where it was used to embellish the clothes of the royal family and the nobles. The technique was later adopted by artisans from different parts of India, and it became popular throughout the country.

Techniques and Methods

Zardosi embroidery involves the use of fine gold and silver wires, as well as silk and other materials, to create intricate designs on fabrics such as silk, velvet, and satin.

The embroidery is done using a special needle called an “aari,” which is similar to a crochet hook. 

Style of Zardosi Embroidery

The designs in Zardosi embroidery are typically inspired by nature and include floral patterns, birds, animals, and other motifs. The embroidery is often combined with other techniques such as beadwork, sequin work, and stone embellishments to create a rich and luxurious look.

Use of Zardosi Embroidery

Zardosi embroidery is a versatile technique and can be used to decorate a wide range of clothing and accessories such as sarees, lehengas, dupattas, sherwanis, bags, and shoes.

It is also used to create decorative pieces such as wall hangings, cushion covers, and tablecloths.

7. Kantha Embroidery 

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KANTHA EMBROIDERY ON TUSSAR SILK

Kantha embroidery is a traditional Indian embroidery style from the subcontinent, particularly in the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha. It is a form of hand-stitched embroidery that is known for its intricate designs and colorful patterns.

Origin of Kantha Embroidery

Kantha embroidery has a long history, dating back to ancient times when women in rural areas used to recycle old sarees, dhotis, and other fabrics to create warm blankets and quilts. They would layer several pieces of cloth together and use a running stitch to hold the layers in place, creating a warm and soft covering for the cold winter months. Over time, these blankets and quilts became more decorative as women began to embellish them with embroidery.

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Techniques and Methods

Kantha embroidery is characterized by its use of a running stitch, which is used to create intricate patterns and designs on the fabric. The stitches are usually done in a simple back-and-forth motion, creating a textured effect on the fabric. The embroidery was usually done in a white or cream-colored thread, with simple designs that reflected the rural life and natural surroundings of the artisans. Kantha embroidery has evolved into a more sophisticated art form, with a wide range of designs and color combinations

Style of Kantha Embroidery

The designs themselves can be simple or elaborate and often feature flowers, animals, and geometric shapes. Kantha embroidery is used to decorate a variety of textiles, including sarees, dupattas, and bedspreads. It is also used to create decorative wall hangings and cushion covers.

8. Kashmiri Embroidery

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KASHMIRI EMBROIDERY

Kashmiri embroidery is a style of Indian embroidery that originated in the Kashmir Valley of India. It is known for its intricate and delicate needlework, which is often characterized by fine, intricate stitches and the use of a variety of materials.

Origin of Kashmiri Embroidery

The origins of Kashmiri embroidery can be traced back to the 15th century when the Mughal emperors ruled India. It was during this time that the art of embroidery flourished in India, and Kashmiri embroidery emerged as a distinctive style. This Indian embroidery was initially used to decorate the clothes of the nobility and the wealthy, but over time it became more accessible and was used to embellish everyday clothing as well.

Techniques and Methods

Kashmiri embroidery is created using a variety of techniques, including chain stitch, satin stitch, and stem stitch. The embroidery is often done on a base fabric, such as silk or cotton, and can be embellished with a range of materials, including gold and silver thread, sequins, beads, and even precious stones. This Indian embroidery is typically done by hand and can take many hours or even days to complete.

Style of Kashmiri Embroidery

One of the distinctive features of Kashmiri embroidery is its use of motifs inspired by the natural world. These include flowers, leaves, vines, and birds, as well as paisley designs, which are a traditional Kashmiri motif. This Indian embroidery is also known for its vibrant colors, which are often inspired by the local landscape.

Which Indian Embroidery Would you Prefer?

Indian embroidery is a rich and diverse art form that has been practiced for centuries.

From the intricate and delicate designs of Chikankari to the bold and colorful patterns of Phulkari. Like Many traditional art forms, it is facing challenges that threaten its survival and to address this issue, efforts should be made to promote and celebrate Indian embroidery as a valuable and important art form.

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