Do you know why Indian art and crafts hold a special place in the hearts of travellers? It's because we integrate culture and customs into these said art and crafts. For instance, music, dance, pottery, wood and metal work, paintings, fabric, to name a few. All of them are spectacular and special in their own ways. But if we were to pick one, it would be Indian embroidery. So diverse in patterns, designs and colours that these embroidered beauties have reached every possible corners of this earth. And for all the right reasons. Here are some of the most popular embroidered arts from India you need to know about.
Chikankari, Uttar Pradesh
This art form originated from Persia during the time of the Mughals. Delicate and complicated, chikankari has 36 types of stitches, depending on the region. Before the actual embroidery work takes place, the cloth goes through block printing whereby designs or motifs are printed. The motifs and patterns are region and nature influenced. One is mostly to find flower patterns.
Shisha or Mirrorwork, Gujarat and Rajasthan
This popular craft is originally from Gujarat and Rajasthan. In this type of embroidery, small pieces of mirrors are sewn together in neat patterns and in-between pretty embroidered designs. You have seen this shisha work during Navratri, on the traditional attires worn by both men and women, and also on bags and decorative pieces.
Zardozi, Uttar Pradesh
Also from Persia, Zardozi work involves the use of gold and silver threads along with pearls and precious stones. Yes, you guessed it right. This embroidery was and is fit for kings. Think of velvet and rich silk fabrics when we speak of zardozi. No wonder, zardozi lehenga is the number one choice for every Indian bride.
Kashidakari, Jammu and Kashmir
Yet another one from Persia, Kashidakari is the popular Kashmiri embroidery. The patterns are nature inspired, mostly flora. During the harsh Kashmiri winters, the locals depended on this for their livelihood. One unique feature of this particular embroidered art form is the use of teapot motif. You will find most of this work on silk and wool. The colourful chain stitches are unmistakable.
Your Punjab visit is incomplete if you come back without a phulkari suit or at least a dupatta. The holy city of Amritsar is home to this beautiful embroidered work of art. The name makes it clear--it's embroidered flower motifs on delicate fabrics. Phulkari art is interesting and unique because the stitching is done on the reverse side of the fabric; what you see on the front of the fabric is actually the design that you get from the stitching on the reverse. Confused? Get yourself a phulkari dupatta. Phulkari mostly uses bright coloured threads on lightly coloured fabric.
Toda embroidery, Tamil Nadu
Shawls worn by the Todu community of the Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu, have these embroidery. These are nature-inspired motifs. The embroidery is practiced only by women. A lot of flowers and buffaloes can be seen as motifs, both important to the Toda culture.