"Old is Gold". This phrase is apt for the Indian gold and silver embroidery- Zardosi work.
India has always been in the limelight of the global market for its varied and rich traditional fabric decoration techniques. Decoration can be introduced on garments through 3 techniques-painting, printing and embroidery. India excels in all these three techniques.
Embroidery specifically has always been a universal form of art. The Indian traditional embroidery has withstood the ravages of time, impact of foreign influences and globalization of embroidery techniques to outshine many of its counterparts in today's market scenario.
Zardosi is an art which creates magic on the fabric. It reflects royalty and was known to adorn the attire of Gods and thus holds a distinguished place among all crafts. The common mango motif of Zardosi has found a place in the wardrobe of Kings and Queens of various eras.
The history of Zardosi embroidery in India dates back to Rig Vedic times. In fact the last 5 decades has seen a phenomenal progress in terms of revival of this golden art.
The use of gold and silver threads, beads, stones, and imaginative designs has made it one of the most sought after glittering art to decorate fabric. The word "zardosi" is made up of two Persian terms, 'Zar' meaning gold and 'Dozi' meaning embroidery.
A Persian embroidery form, zardosi attained its summit in the 17th century under the patronage of Mughal emperor Akbar. But in 18th & 19th century the craft suffered a setback due to rising industrialization. It was only after receiving independence in the year 1947 that the Indian government undertook steps to promote zari embroidery. In fact now Zari constitutes an important part of handicrafts export basket, its export increasing to 16.83% in 2007.
The materials used to do the embroidery has also been commercialized to meet the demands of the consumer over the period of time and to reduce the cost, so as to make available to all. Metallic wires, kora, saadi, kinari, salma, badla, sequins, stones and other such materials are used today to add to the glitz and glamour of the embroidery. A pictorial description of some of the commonly used materials is shown below.