Types of Indian Embroideries


India is a diversified country having varied range of cultures and customs. The Indian art and craft have become world famous. There is huge demand of Indian embroidered garments. There is huge variety of embroideries done in India, here are few of them which have got more fame in terms of popularity in international market : –

Zardozi 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.

Mirror Embroidery

Mirror embroidery is the specialty of Gujarat state. This work also originated in Persia during 13th century. Mirror work is never done alone, it is generally in combination with other types of stitches or embroideries. This embroidery is done with both large and small mirrors. Basically it was more utilized by Jats community. It is embroidered using colorful threads like red, green, blue, yellow, black, maroon, etc.

This art apart from Gujarat state is also practiced in neighboring state of Rajasthan and in appliqué art of Orissa. Many different types of stitches like cross stitch, buttonhole stitch and satin stitch are used in its combination. This art is often done by the aid of machine embroidery, but in some places it is still done through hand work which is more time consuming and a costly affair in comparison to the former technique. The mirrors used are of different shapes and sizes like round shape, diamond shape, square shape, etc. However round shape is the most common shape of mirrors used in this form of embroidery.

Mirror work is done on different fabrics and types of garments. Apart from ethnic garments it is crafted even on indo western clothes. It has huge demand in western countries. Mirror work is done on cushion covers, purses, bedsheets, curtains, wearable garments, wall hangings, decorative items, laces, etc. This embroidery has also seen the limelight of international ramp shows too.

Kantha Embroidery

Kantha 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.

Chikankari Embroidery

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.

There are many types of stitches used to make beautiful chikankari embroidery like chain stitch, buttonhole stitch, French knots and running stitch. The most beautiful is the motif having design created in the form of net or jhali all over the garment by generating thread tension. Shadow work is also done by chikan embroidery which is done on the opposite side of the garment.

There are three types of chikankari stitches ;

1) Jali work – It is done in the form of net design spread all over the fabric.

2) Flat stitches – The flat stitches are delicate and very fine stitch. It gives the look as if the embroidery is itself the texture of the garment.

3) Embossed stitches – This stitch provides beaded type of look to the garment.

In international apparel market also the demand of chikankari embroidered garments have seen a steep rise. The artisans of Uttar Pradesh earn foreign currency for the country. Many high profile designers intricate this form of art in their collections.


India is very rich in terms of art and crafts because of different communities and culture of its people. The above was just a glimpse of four the many types of embroidery art present in India. These arts have acclaimed international fame and are in great demand in western countries. After independence these arts were revived by the Indian government which improved the declining situation of the Indian embroideries. The main support came from the Indian government.

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