Zardosi, the dressing for the privileged, is an ancient skill where gold and silver threads are used to create elaborate embroidered garments. The word ‘Zardosi’ stems from two Persian words – ‘zar’ meaning ‘gold’ and ‘dosi’ meaning ‘embroidery’. It is prevalent in countries like India, Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Finishing touches are applied to Zardosi embroidery
The technique entered India with Persian invaders, and reached its apex during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar. He was so fond of this flamboyant embroidery technique that the royal garments of his court and courtesans, the courtroom decorations and the tent walls, all incorporated Zardosi embroidery in some way. Some references illustrate the presence of this technique during the Rig Vedic period, where zari was believed to adorn the attire of the Gods.
Emperor Akbar in Zardosi garment
Elaborate Zardosi patterns in gold and silver can be enhanced by the use of seed pearl studs and precious stones on exquisite materials like velvet and silk. The final garment, along with the embroidery, is not only beautiful but also very durable, fit to be passed down as an heirloom.
Elaborate elegant Zardosi embroidery
A decline in the production of Zardosi work has been prominent, since the cost involved in producing it is considerably high, and the materials required are beyond the reach of craftsmen. Needless to say, these garments are out of reach for most people. This problem has been overcome to a large extent by substituting the hugely expensive gold wire with copper wire or silk threads covered in gold. This not only reduces the cost incurred without drastically altering the overall look, but also tremendously lowers the price for the customers, thereby expanding the clientele base. Today, Zardosi is incorporated in the embellishment of several materials like wood, handmade paper and fabric to make fine pieces of art and displays of incredible skill.
L: A Zardosi craftsman at work
R: One of many Zardosi patterns
Images: D'source, Wikipedia, Flickr, Utsavpedia