"A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value. "
- Isaac Asimov
Embroidery is embellishment art of decorating different fabrics and material using needles, yarns and threads. Earlier this needle art was mostly carried by women of the house, they found it relaxing and often called it “painting with colourful threads”.
This art was considered as diverse and distinct evidence of our rich Indian culture. Traditionally Embroidery motifs were inspired by our historical intricate patterns and gradually the designs started getting inspired by anything and everything like plants, flowers but every design had a unique essence of its own.
Every style varies because of the region it belongs to and the type of fabric that is used to do the embroidery. As we get into a deeper understanding of embroidery, the texture of fabric and selection of stitch matters. Yes, there are different types of embroidery stitches like chain stitch, running stitch, cross-stitch, satin stitch etc. And not just stitches, different types of embroidery can be done using beads, stones and colourful sequins. Recent trends show that embroideries are now done on buttons, collars and pockets too.
Indian embroidery stands out because of the hard work that goes behind the unique technique used, selection of the fabric and colourful threads to make a phenomenal piece of art.
Below are some of the famous Indian embroidery that has been inspiring generations of designers.
Chikankari belongs to “Nawabo ka sheher” Lucknow. It was introduced by Noor Jahan, the wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir in the 17th century as the Persian art in India. One of the most prominent features about this embroidery is the stitches. Some of the most popular stitches which are used in Lucknow Chikankari include chain stitch, hemstitch and backstitch. The stitches are done with perfection and neatness, so much hard work and patience go behind this art which gives the garment a look of richness and beauty.
Chamba Rumal is embroidery done on handkerchief using colourful threads and intricate patterns. It was originated in the princely hill states of Kangra, Chamba kingdom. The colour schemes used while doing this is pleasing and bright, people usually prefer giving this a gift at weddings and auspicious days.
Kantha was originated in Bengal and Odisha. The other name of this Kantha embroidery is Naksha and it is done on quilts, bedsheets, Dupatta and sarees with running stitches. The special feature about the embroidery is that the pattern is the same on both the side of the cloth, so it can be used from both sides. The motif theme in Kantha generally includes humans, animals, plants and geometrical patterns.
Phulkari is one of the famous types of embroidery tradition of Punjab. It was introduced in the 15th century, during maharaja Ranjit Singh’s reign. The unique feature of this embroidery is that it is done on a dull colour base and bright colour threads are used to make the patterns. They are mostly geometrical and green is the basic colour they use.
The richest form of Indian embroidery is the Zardozi or Zari. It was introduced in the 16th century in India by Mughals. Zardozi came from a Persian background and meant gold embroidery, so the threads used metallic. Presently Zari work has its own essence and royalty, the embroidery is done using real gold thread and beads called “Sitara” for exclusive designer pieces.
The Toda embroidery was originated in Tamil Nadu, Nilgiri hills. It was mostly practised by women and were done by the Toda community. Earlier the embroidery was only done on shawls but now it’s done on handbags, bed sheets and even sarees. The Toda community worships buffaloes as their god, so the main motif they use is buffalo and stylised moon, sun, stars to make the beautiful embroidery.