The story of the golden thread – Zardozi

Written by Nazish Javed khan

When Actress Esha Gupta walked as the show stopper in Designer Amit Aggarwal’s ensemble with the modern interpretation of the zardozi work, the fashion industry was spell bound by the aura it created.  One could not imagine that a traditional creative gold thread work like zardozi can sweep the floor in the fast fashion world. Ancient Indian texts mention the use of gold and silver thread work popularly known as Zardozi, even though it is believed to have originated from Persia. It is visually evident in the figures that adorn the walls of the caves of Ajanta.

Zardozi comes from two Persian words ZAR  means GOLD

DOZI means embroidery / embellishment.

It is a very ancient work of the world and for India as well.

But it was only under the royal patronage of the Mughal emperor Akbar that zardozi and aari work reached its zenith and was extensively used.

Traditionally, the art of zardozi used only gold and silver threads along with precious gems and diamonds. But with the time, silk and other shinning threads like rehsam, dabkanakshi, sitara (sequins), glass beads (moti), plastic beads and other things replaced them.

The majority of artisans are Muslims craftsmen who keep alive the heritage of their forefathers.

In India, there are cities known for zardozi work like Lucknow , Bareilly , Rampur , Agra , Delhi, Kolkata, Kashmir, Hyderabad, Farrukkabad and many cities.

Zardozi work done on Kabasharif by original gold strings then and now.

The tools used for this craft are the needles of zardozi and aari work which is also inspired by shoe making needle (aari needle)

The process of work

To begin the process, we first draw a motif or pattern on tracing paper which is called a khaka.

Then we create tiny holes along the pattern or khaka by using needle. This is called pinning.

After the pinning we spread zinc powder over the pattern khaka.

Then stretch fabric on the wooden frame and start working on the fabric.

Designers inspired by Zardozi :  

Indian designers have learned that the country cannot and should not discard its domestic embroidery styles. Handwork, also easy access to labour hands, is India’s biggest strength in the global fashion game. India’s signature embroidery technique has launched many a bridal trousseau designer on the strength of its thread alone.

“My simple philosophy is craft which is sustain for last thousands of years now it disappears because of fast fashion. But I really believe that fashion is only hope for crafts and fashion is only the solution of crafts” says the famous Indian designer Rahul Mishra

It has also brought top-league European couturiers and fashion houses knocking on our doors and turned embroidery houses such as Francois Lesages and Adarsh Gill’s into mini empires. Others who followed this artwork into their collections are Sabyasaachi Mukherji, Naeem Khan, Rahul Mishra, Manish Malhotra and Manish Arora Other international designers are Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad.

According to Designer Naeem Khan, “My family has been making embroideries for almost thre generations closed to 100 years. This was my father’s dream when I went to America to show what we make in India to the world.”

The work is very beautiful from every single perspective.

Artisans love to do their work. They are very happy with their skill getting global identity.

“I always prefer to embroidery you can dream and change you can do anything with that. There is no limit for me in embroidery” says Elie Saab

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About the author

Nazish Javed khan