Embroidery is the embellishment of cloth with designs made by needle and thread. Over the centuries, embroidery has been used to adorn everything from handkerchiefs to the most sumptuous state regalia. Embroidery in India has been done on woven cloth of cotton, wool and silk.
In India, natural colors used for dying distinguishes the work done in India from the others. The Indian embroider never uses too many colors in any one piece. Embroidery was pursued by the ladies in their free time. They embroidered the bed sheets, pillows and cushion covers and made wall hangings. Gradually it became a full-fledged profession.
In addition to the white base fabric, colored fabrics and threads are also used. Silk and cotton threads are employed for embroidery work on sarees, dupattas, table linen and kurtas. Cotton being the most preferred choice, chikankari is also done on mulls, muslins, voiles, organzas and polyester. Some more include: chiffon, viscose, georgette, polyester georgette, cotton crepe and net. The designs change every other month, as per the market trends, with colors that perfectly match with the season.
Every state has a different style of embroidery unique to itself dissipating the aura of the traditions and lifestyle of the state.
In traditional Indian embroidery the threads are dyed in natural colors and the use of too many colors in the same cloth is avoided. Each state in India has a style unique to its tradition. The satin stitch is used in Kashmir. Kashmir are popular because of the embroidery done on them. The craftsmen of Kashmir, to beautify shawls use different stitches.
Sozni or fine needlework is generally done on the side of the shawls. The value of the shawl is determined by the amount and quality of the embroidery. The traditional Kashmiri dress; Phiran is also endowed with rich embroidery. The finest embroidery from Kashmir can be found on Pashmina shawls. Sometimes the entire surface of these shawls is covered with fine embroidery.
The darn stitch, which produces the 'bagh' and 'phulkari' stitch of Punjab is vibrant like the people of the state. The interlacing The white on white 'chikan' work of Uttar Pradesh is breath-taking and requires a lot of skill. The silk embroidery done in Surat has exquisite patterns. Indian embroidery uses many stitches as well as variations of basic stitches. The running stitch, back stitch, stem stitch, feather stitch, interlacing stitch, satin stitch, cross stitch etc. are just to name a few. Indian embroidery exists in exquisite variations and vibrant colors, with each state having a unique style of its own.stitches of Kutch and Kathiawar are as beautiful as they are intricate. The 'kasauti' stitch of Karnataka too is popular due to its traditional value.Chain stitch is popular in Kashmir and is done using wool, cotton or silk thread. A hook is used instead of a needle, as it covers more area than a needle. Embroidery is done on a piece of plain white cloth and small stitches are used to create figures and motifs in bright colours. The background is also made up of a series of embroidered coin shaped circles, which add dynamism to the entire structure of the work. Chain stitch is used to create chain stitch rugs or Gabbas.
Chikankari is said to have a Turkish impression though it is mentioned in the records of Megasthenes in 3rd century B.C. Kashmiri embroidery is colorful with symbols like chinar leaf, apple blossom, lily, the saffron flower and the fauna of the region. Phulkari has brightly colored flowers on coarse cotton. Beadwork and Zardosi are Mughal introductions where as mirror work is typical to Gujarat and Rajasthan. Kantha' Embroidery of Bengal makes imaginative use of waste rugs and Kasuti is famous for religious themes.
Machine Embroidery may have become common these days and perhaps more economical but theuniqueness, variety, intricacy, art and fineness of hand embroidery is unmatched and as yet unchallenged.
Dakota Collectibles Embroidery Design Center was established in 1988 by George and Jerry Westphal, who, at the time, were in the retail embroidery business.
They created designs keeping in mind the customer (embroiderer's) needs and the endproduct receiver's needs. They constantly come up with new patterns to cope with the changing trends and requirements. They keep adding to their collection of themes and patterns
The women of Rajasthan and Gujarat traditionally carry embroidered torans (frieze), dowry bags, shawls, cholis (blouses) and dupattas as part of their dowry. This work can be identified by its use of tiny mirrors with colorful threads that shape floral and figurative designs. Its shiny brilliance makes it a hot favorite with tourists.
Zardozi Zari is gold, and zardozi embroidery is the glitteringly ornate, heavily encrusted gold thread work practiced in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir and Delhi. Of course, the days of using real gold and silver thread are now history. Metal ingots are melted and pressed through perforated steel sheets, to be converted into wires. They are then hammered to the required thinness. Plain wire is called badla, and when wound round a thread, it is called kasav. Smaller spangles are called sitara, and tiny dots made of badla are called mukaish.
Rajasthan is also known for deft needlework. Karchobi, a form of raised zari metallic thread embroidery is popular in here. It is created by applying flat stitches on cotton padding. Karchobi work can be seen on bridal and formal costumes. It is also done on velvet coverings, curtains, tent hangings and the coverings of animal carts and temple chariots.
Sheeshedar -Mirror Work
One of the well- known crafts associated with embroidery is Sheeshedar or mirror work, It is a highly intricate form of sewing mirror discs onto the fabric.The art supposed to have originated in Persia, dates back to the early 13th century. But not much is known about it. Marco Polo, who came to India in the same century, commented that the gold and silver embroidery in this region was more skillfully done than anywhere else in the world.
The art of putting mirrors into the garments is usually combined with other forms of embroidery. The communities who were already familiar with art of embroidery incorporated this craft so as to add more effects to their designs.
Gota and Kinari Gota and Kinari:
Akin to applique, gota work involves placing woven gold cloth onto other fabric to create different surface textures. Kinari, or edging, as the word suggests, is the fringed or tasselled border decoration. This art is predominantly practiced by Muslim craftsmen.¤ PhulkariPhulkari:
Embroidered extensively in Haryana and Punjab, the phulkari shawl is a spectacular piece of clothing. Birds, flowers and human figures are normally embroidered on red or orange khaddar (coarse cotton cloth made of handspun yarn). The design is fed into the cloth from the reverse side using darning needles and one thread at a time, leaving a long stitch below to form the basic pattern. The embroidery is usually done with silk or satin thread, in both a vertical and horizontal pattern so that when the phulkari is finally ready, the play of light on its shiny surface lends it breathtaking beauty.
Batik art received an impetus when it was introduced as a subject at the famous university of Shantiniketan in Calcutta. Chola Mandal in Madras is also popular for its Batik product.The art of batik is a three-stage process of waxing, dyeing and dewaxing (removing the wax). There are also several sub-processes like preparing the cloth, tracing the designs, stretching the cloth on the frame, waxing the area of the cloth that does not need dyeing, preparing the dye, dipping the cloth in dye, boiling the cloth to remove wax and washing the cloth in soap.
The bagh is an offshoot of phulkari and almost always follows a geometric pattern, with green as the basic color. Green is probably predominant because Muslims have traditionally been doing bagh work. Although lacking in technical finesse, it makes up for the loss by a variety of colorful motifs. Simply everything goes into the design – elephants, houses, crops, the sun, the moon, gardens and even kites.
Chamba RumalsChamba Rumals:
The red and orange richly embroidered silk scarves of Chamba are simply beautiful. They often depict scenes from the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Raaslila of Radha and Krishna. The embroidery is done in silk yarn on tussar (silk) or fine cotton. The ground is usually white or cream, but the embroidery threads (usually red and orange) are in striking contrast.¤ Chikankari
Chikankari embroidery done in white colored thread on mauve georgette fabric.
Chikankari Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh is the hotbed of white thread embroidery on white or colored cotton. Intricate and complex, this work is similar to what is commonly known as shadow work. The beauty of the embroidery comes through on fine muslin cloth, where you can see the stitches forming lace-like patterns on the underside.
Bihar and Bengal are known for their simple embroidery called kantha which is nothing more than patterns traced in a running stitch with short gaps. Floral, animal and bird motifs embroidered on both cotton and silk are extremely popular.Kantha EmbroideryKantha is the traditional form of embroidery of West Bengal. It is running style of stitch. The embroidery is done on many layers of cloth. It is done on quilts, bedsheets, blankets, saris, salwar suits, stoles, napkins, etc.
It is also known as Dorukha. This word means making worn out garments into beautiful garments. Therefore it is also known as recycling art. In earlier times the worn out silk or muslin clothes where used to be put in piles and stitched together. It is believed that its date of origin lies during the era of Lord Buddha. They used to drape themselves with rags of clothes that were stitched together. The artists usually embroidery images of human beings, animals, flowers, geometric designs and mythological figures. Generally the worker selects the figure of embroidery to which they relate to. There are different types of kantha done- Sujani kantha, Durjani kantha, Lep kantha, Archilata kantha, Rumal kantha and Oaar kantha.Different types of patterns like jaal, folk life designs, dhan chori, etc are done in kantha embroidery. The rural women of West Bengal usually do it on cotton saris with thread taken from the borders of the sari and done all over.
Kashmir is known for phirans (woolen kurtas) and namdahs (woolen rugs) with big floral embroidery in cheerful colours. Crewel embroidery is the same as chain stitch, is usually done with an awl (a small pointed tool for making holes) and is worked from underneath the fabric rather than above.
The embroidery of the lamada gypsy tribe of Andhra Pradesh, banjara is a mix of applique with mirrors and beadwork. Bright red, yellow, black and white colored cloth is laid in bands and joined with a white criss-cross stitch.
Dharwar (Karnataka) is home to kasuti, a delicate single thread embroidery done on handloom saris. Motifs consist of temples, peacocks, elephants, flowering trees and geometric forms spread across the sari.
Sitting on the charpoys (beds woven with jute strings) pulled into the protective shade of a tree or ensconced against a wall, women in villages and small towns all over Punjab are often busy creating spectacular flower-embroidery on dupattas, shawls or other garments. Called phulkari in local parlance, the origin of this beautiful art can be traced back to the 15th century AD.
The word phulkari literally means flowering. It is a form of craft in which embroidery is done in a simple and sparse design over shawls and dupattas. In some cases where the design is worked over very closely, covering the material entirely, it is called bagh (a garden of flowers).
The embroidery of phulkari and bagh is done in long and short darn stitch, which is created into innumerable designs and patterns. It is the skilful manipulation of this single stitch that lends an interesting and characteristic dimension to this needlework. While the stitch itself is uncomplicated, the quality of the phulkari depends upon the size of the stitch. The smaller the stitch, the finer the embroidery.
Zardozi work is an ancient form of embroidery basically done with gold or silver zari threads. It is also known as metal embroidery. Although now-a-days it is also done with colored metal threads. The word Zardozi is derived by combining two words Zar and Dozi which in Persian language means gold and embroidery respectively. Therefore it is clear that this art of embroidery was originated in Persia which was bought to India by Moghuls. Initially it was done with real metal threads of gold and silver. It was done on clothes for the rich and royal, wall hangings, bedsheets, etc. In between the application of pearls and precious stones looks stunning on it. Basically it is done on silk, crepe, brocade and velvet fabrics. Zardozi embroidery saw its decline during the reign of Aurangzeb. It was revived after the independence.Zardozi work is an extension of zari embroidery which is done with crochet hook. The embroidery done gives the appearance of chain stitch. The things required for doing zardozi are beads, dabka, coiled wires, sequins, etc. As zardozi is done with coiled metal wires studded with stones, beads, etc is heavy in weight therefore is done on fabrics that are thick and heavy like silk, velvet, stain, crepe, etc. Thus the choice of fabrics is also royal and expensive. The design to be done is first traced on the fabric, then it is spread on the wooden frame. Further the embroidery is done by picking up single thread in the needle and sewing it into the cloth. This art requires patience and is quite complicated. Expertise is required to do it properly.Earlier zardozi was done on wearable garments and bedspreads mainly for royal families. But now it has got into the reach of common people also. Clothes with zardozi are an integral part for any wedding or important functions as it depicts royalty. Apart from wearable garments, zardozi is also done on cushion covers, table cloths, wall hangings, fabric purses, etc. This embroidery is a costly affair.
The state of Uttar Pradesh especially the city of Lucknow is considered to be the hub of Chikankari embroidery. Chikankari is derived from the word Chakeen that means elegant patterns on the fabric which is a Persian word. Earlier it was done with white thread on muslin clothes. However now it is been done on various types of fabrics like cotton, linen nylon, georgette, chiffon and synthetic fabrics. Apart from wearable garments it is also done on various other things like curtains, bedsheets, table cloths, pillow covers and cushion covers.Unlike earlier times it is not only done on white colored cloths but also fabrics of various colors. But the thread used for the embroidery is generally white. Various motifs are embroidered through it like floral motifs which include flowers like rose, lotus, jasmine, creepers, etc.
Bakhiya, double back or shadow stitch in chikan work is done from the wrong side of the fabric and the design is rendered in the herringbone style. The shadow of the thread is seen through the cloth on the right side.
Zanzeera is a small chain stitch worked with one thread on the right side of the fabric. Being extremely fine, it is used to finally outline the leaf or petal shapes after one or more outlines have already been worked.
The various other types of legendary chikankari stitches are: Pechani, Bijli, Ghaspatti, Makra, Kauri, Hathkadi, Banjkali, Sazi, Karan, Kapkapi, Madrazi, Bulbul-chasm, Taj Mahal, Janjeera, Kangan, Dhania- patti, Rozan, Meharki, Chanapatti, Baalda, Jora, Keel kangan, bulbul, sidhaul, ghas ki patti .
Kathi embroidery, however, shows an entirely separate style from that of Bhuj. While the floral patterns remained, the fillings were often in herringbone stitch (being quicker than the chain stitch). The designs were figures and animal motifs adopted from kathi art. Dominant motifs of flowers or peacocks were used and the intervening spaces were filled with leaves and buds. Mirrors were used for emphasizing the center of flowers, eyes of birds and animals
Jali stitch is the one where the thread is never drawn through the fabric, ensuring that the back portion of the garment looks as impeccable as the front. The warp and weft threads are carefully drawn apart and minute buttonhole stitches are inserted into the cloth.
Banarasi is a twisted stitch worked with six threads on the right side of the fabric. Working from the right across about five threads a small stitch is taken over about two threads vertically. The needle is reinserted halfway along and below the horizontal stitch formed and is taken out about two threads vertically on the right above the previous stitch.
Rahet is a stem stitch worked with six threads on the wrong side of the fabric. Working from the left across about four threads, the needle is reinserted halfway along the first stitch, and subsequently where each previous stitch ended. It forms a solid line of backstitch on the right side of the fabric and is rarely used in its simple form but is common in the double form of dohra bakhiya as an outlining .
Tepchi is a long running stitch worked with six strands on the right side of the fabric taken over four threads and picking up one, so that a line is formed. It is used principally as a basis for further stitchery and occasionally to form a simple shape.It closely resembles jamdani weaving in appearance.
Bakhiya is a close herringbone worked from left to right with six strands on the wrong side of the fabric. When close herringbone is worked from the reverse of the fabric it forms a line of backstitches on the front and is known in western embroidery as double backstitch. In Chikan it is used for shadow work of petals and leaves.Hool is a fine detached eyelet stitch. A hole is punched in the fabric with the needle and the threads are teased apart. The hole is then held by small straight stitches all round, worked with one thread on the right side of the fabric, In combination stitches it can be worked with six threads and often forms the center of a flower.
Zanzeera is a small chain stitch worked with one thread on the right side of the fabric. The thread is looped around the needle, which pick up about two threads of fabric and the needle is then reinserted in the previous loop forming a chain. Zanzeera is extremely fine and is used as a final outline to leaf or petal shapes after one or more outlines have already been worked. These are normally in dohra bakhiya, balda and banarsi.
Sujuni is the traditional form of embroidery from Bihar. Embroidery is done on a fabric that is enforced with fine muslin. The base fabric is generally red or white. The outlines of the main motifs are highlighted with thick chain stitch and the inner spaces are filled with different coloured threads. Other motifs are filled with red colour or the colour of the base fabric
Derivatives: These are five in number, four based on tepchi and one on rahet. They are known as tepchi pechni, pashni, balda and dohra bakhiya.
Tepchi pechni: On the basis of tepchi forming a stem and after the flower or design at the end has been worked the thread is whipped back under the existing stitches picking up the fabric at approximately every other stitch. It is worked with six threads on the right side of the fabric.
Pashni is a fine version of tepchi pechni worked with one thread on the right side of the fabric. A row of short running stitches is made on the edge of a motif and the thread is then looped back through them but without picking up the fabric. This forms a laced running stitch. Pashni is used as fine finish on the inside of a motif, as zanzeera is on the outside, after the normal outline stitches have been worked.
Balda: Tepchi is worked to outline a motif and is then covered with small vertical satin stitches worked over about two threads from the left. They are pulled tight and rubbed with the thumb to ensure that they are close. Balda is worked with six threads on the right side of the fabric. It is used to outline motifs especially combined with dohra bakhya, banarsi and zanzeera.
Dohra Bakhya: A double row of rahet is worked very close together with six threads on the wrong side of the fabric. This gives a double backstitch effect on the right side; hence the (dohra means double) name is given likewise. Dohra bakhya is used to outline motifs inside balda or banarsi. It is a very important stitch of Chikan and is the one most frequently worked in yellow muga silk.
MURRI WORK A major feature of Chikan is the use of a specific formation of stitchery, which in itself creates a small-embossed leaf or petal. There are seven such stitch formations. They are known as phunda, mundi murri, nukili murri, mur mora, kauri, boota patti and Chikan ki ghans. Murri works is often used as a general term to describe these stitches.Phunda is used to form a small knot-like petal. A blanket stitch is made with along left arm and two small ones are worked close to it on the right. The needle is then taken around the three stitches to the left side of the first stitch. The long base of the first stitch is then whipped.
Phunda is worked with six threads on the right side of the fabric. This is one of the best known stitches of Chikan and is usually wrongly described as French knot.Mundi murri is used to form petals with a broad straight edge tapering to the stem. Tepchi is worked from right to left and at the left end is over sewn with two or three straight stitches, keeping the thread to the left with the thumb, and then one or two narrower once.
Nukli murri is used to form petals tapering at each end. The needle is inserted diagonally across the center width of the petal shape. Then a similar diagonal stitch is taken back towards the base of the petal and a final narrow diagonal stitch is made across the tip. This forms a thick criss-cross basis, which is then over sewn, narrowing at both ends. It is worked with nine threads on the right side of the fabric.Mur mora is used to form a small bud at the end of a curved stem. The shape of a 6 is made with tepchi and at the center the stitch is twisted and over stitched twice.
Kauri is used to form a leaf in the shape of a cowrie shell. Two stitches are worked to three-quarters of the length of the leaf side and the thread is then looped back under the first stitch from the inside without picking up the fabric. It is then taken back through the stitch, so formed finishing with a small stitch at the tip of the leaf. This makes a base down one side of the leaf which is thicker in the center and which is over sewn with small straight stitches.Boot patti is used to form a pointed spined leaf. Three large stitches are worked up the spine of the leaf to beyond its tip. The needle is brought out by the side of the point and is reinserted near the center. Criss-cross stitches are made picking up the fabric down the spine and keeping very close together on the outside edge. The stitches slant steeply on the right side of the fabric and are straight across the back.Chikan ki ghans is used to form a spiky end to a curved leaf or cone shape, the word ghans meaning grass. Staggered long diagonal stitches are worked to a centerline with the thread whipped under them and pulled tight.
Pulled work: The pulled work stitches of Chikan are known as jaali. They are all worked from the back of the fabric with a fine strong thread able to withstand tension. This is usually drawn from the selvedge of the fabric. Four of the stitches are used to fill leaf or flower shapes. The most common is Siddhaur Jaali, which is worked diagonally over six threads, giving small overholes on the front surface. A variation is Chataya Jaali, worked vertically over eight threads and horizontally over four, resulting in a small square grid. The common stitch known as hatkati is a straight row of pulled holes worked vertically over six to eight threads and is used for the spine of leavers to encircle flower heads or to divide and edge areas of fabric. Variations of it are dohra hatkati. When repeating the stitch on return and maheen hatkati when it is finely worked over four threads makes a double line.
Cross Stitch Link
Hand Embriodery Link