Lucknowi - Zardosi Embroidery 

Lucknowi - Zardosi Embroidery

Let’s come to know more about the meaning of the word zardosi- well, the zardosi is the form of embroidery that that is basically native of the Persia. The zardosi is made of two words- zar- means gold and dozi means embroidery. In this process, metallic bound threads are woven in the form of beautiful embellishments on to the various fabrics. These embellishments appear heavy and this intricate style of design is brought to India with mughal conquerors. This is extremely popular in iraque, Iran and Pakistan. In India, lucknow is known as a hub of this embroidery, where thousands of artisans weave this beautiful art form. There seems an attached story, particularly romanticized that surrounds its origin. In lucknow, there are a plethora of micro enterprises that specialize in the same. Lucknow zardosi is popularly known as zardosi embroidery. 

Since time immemorial, like as from the time of Vedic literatures, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, they used silk threads wrapped in real gold and silver wires to decorate satin and velvet fabrics. The sequins, beads, some stones- the precious and semi precious one, are also utilized along with the threads. During the mughal times, the same zardosi embellishment was utilized in the form of tapestries and wall hangings. The accessories for the elephants and horses were also made of these embellishments. 

The city of nawabs- lucknow- became the central hub for this embroidery during Aurangzeb’s reign in 12th century. The rise in price for gold and silver, lend the lack of use and further, synthetic forms of the copper wires polished in gold and silver started emerging. 

Inspirational patterns for zardosi -

Lucknow zardosi is more ornate and has heavy designs, even providing 3D quality to their motifs. Delhi also shares similar kinda zardosi work. Hyderabad and Agra keep their patterns as minimalistic, emphasizing more on the large motifs. The flowers, trees to birds or animals, the national ecology of India seep into all zardosi embroidery.

The designing-

During the initial stages of the process, the entire designs are drawn on to a tracing sheet and then holes are made along the traced pattern by using a needle. As described earlier, the floral and leaf motifs and contemporary patterns are more geometric stylization of the similar motifs.

Designing is then followed by the process of tracing by the way of kerosene or blue robin solution, which are wiped against the tracing sheet. This lends the ink from the sheet to seep into the fabric.

Tracing is followed by the process of Adda- that is setting of the frame. Then embroidery is started. A crochet like needle – called as Ari is used..

Styles & Variety

In Lucknow, the raw material to make original Zardozi threads is an alloy of gold and silver. This delicate alloy wire is made by melting ingots that are pressed through perforated steel sheets. They are further flattened by hammering and then converted into wires. Once out of the furnace, these wires are twisted around silk.

This springy quality of thread called “Dabka” is credited as a Lucknow specialty. It is often combined with sequins, glass and plastic beads.

Present Day Scenario & Global Influence

There can be seen numerous products of the zardosi. Not only does the clothes, but coats, dresses, purse, belts, stoles shoes etc. can be seen . large fashion houses has been bringing it  in the front. Most of the designers outsource this art from the villages that specialize in zardosi for generations. The Hollywood, festivals and weddings have also been crucial in bringing back ornate zardosi fabrics that retain their old world charm, with newer designs and approach.


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