The History of Zardozi Work
Zardozi is a form of embroidery that came to India from Persia. Its literal translation, “zar” meaning gold and “dozi” meaning embroidery, refers to the process of using metallic-bound threads to sew embellishment on to various fabrics.
This weighty and complex style of design is said to have been brought to India with the Mughal conquerors.
Origin & History
Zardozi has its earliest mentions in Vedic literatures, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata. The aboriginal process was “Kalabatun”, used silk threads wrapped in real gold and silver wires to decorate satin and velvet fabrics. Along with the threads, other opulent embellishments such as sequins, beads, precious and semi-precious stones and pearls were also sewn on.
At its topmost, it was used in the Mughal Era by the royalty to adorn tent walls in the form of tapestries and wall hangings, as well as on accessories for elephants and horses.
Lucknow became a central hub for this embroidery technique during Aurangzeb’s sovereignty in the 12th Century, when this imperial art form was encouraged under ruling Mughal beneficiaries. Their patronage encouraged Zardozi artists to spread throughout India. However, Lucknow remained the main centre of production due to the high demand from the city of Nawabs. However, over time, with the rise of gold and silver prices, the use of such expensive materials became difficult and artisans resolved to use synthetic threads or copper wires polished in gold and silver. Zardozi became famous as a technique, though some of the glory of the traditional heritage of this craft was lost.
The Geographical Indication Registry has accorded all Zardozi textiles manufactured in Lucknow and its surrounding districts with the GI tag. Cities like Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Kashmir, Kolkata, Varanasi are also known as Zardozi specialty regions. This has differentiated the craft from imitation products for shareholders and has also helped to retain one of the finest and oldest art forms of Lucknow.
Lucknow Zardozi work comprises of difficult embroidery work that sometimes sticks out above the surface, it’s advisable to maintain its shine and manage it carefully with dry cleaning.
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