Zardozi is a form of metal-thread embroidery most famous in the state of Lucknow. It is also practiced in parts of Farrukhabad, Chennai, and Bhopal It is a fine technique of embroidery which is used to add a touch of royalty to the fabric
The embroidery originated in Persia and it translates to ‘zar’ which means gold and ‘dozi’ meaning embroidery.
Even though the Zardozi as we know it today has Persian roots, silver and gold thread weaving was also done in ancient India. According to some historians, the Hiranya, or the sacred gold cloth, is the present-day equivalent of the zari embroidery. The 6th-century Acharanga Sutra, sacred Jain literature mentions that gold-embroidered clothes should not be used by the monks. Marco Polo in the 13th century writes about the fabrics ‘skillfully embroidered with gold and silver wire’ from the Tamil-Pandya kingdom.
The motifs are majorly based on nature, such as leaves, flowers, fruits, animals, and birds. One of the most common motifs is the mango, or kairi. Also common are geometrical patterns, jalis, paisleys inspired from the Persian designs.
The required design is traced on a fabric. Usually, silk, organza, velvet, or satin is used for this process. The entire design is poked with a needle and then outlined. It is followed by fixing the fabric on the adda so that the fabric does not move. This requires the artists to keep the tools, needles, curved hooks, wires, threads, sequins, gems, beads at hand’s reach.
The zari for zardozi is made by flattening the gold and silver into wires called ‘badla’. It is then wrapped around silk threads. The resulting gold thread is also called sunehri, while the silver thread is called rupehri.
Zardozi traditionally uses threads made of gold, silver, or copper. The thread is held at the reverse side of the fabric, while the aari (needle) is held at the top. Along with the metallic threads, the craftsmen also use beads, pearls, sequins, precious and semi-precious stones to make intricate designs.