Embroidery- A Mandate for all your wedding shenanigans

The sound of Shehnai, the aroma of marigold, a heavenly décor  and mouth licking dishes on the buffet yet all the eyes sparkle as the bride walks down the aisle. The  beautiful zari work, along with multiple threads and embellishments, sewn together to form an elaborate silhouette of an impeccable red lehenga, the attire every girl, since childhood dreams of wearing one day. That is exactly how impactful and enriching the art of embroidery is. The decoration on a fabric through embroidery is as valuable as an icing on the cake without which the product seems incomplete. 

The art of embroidery originated when the different processes of decorating the fabric with variant tools were being explored. The art of embroidery first originated in China, between 5th-3rd century BC. Some of the earliest embroidery techniques which are still prevalent in today’s time are cross stitch, blanket stitch, chain stitch, running stitch. In order to save time and effort, machine embroidery has overpowered hand embroidery in current times, yet the beauty of hand embroidery still prevails in the collection of Indian as well as International designers. India being a nation with diversified culture,  has varieties of embroidery variant from different states and regions. From a 5 year old little girl’s sharara dress to a 70 year old grandma’s zardozi silk saree, embroideries are found in nook and corner of every wedding function as it is one of India’s most enduring artistic traditions in myriad forms. Infact every state and region boasts its own style, but needlework is not merely a means of ornamentation. The fabrics are also threaded with stories of the community, with motifs emerging from its natural surroundings, economic state and socio-political scenarios. An epitome of luxury, Indian embroideries have always been a trademark of royalty and novelty.

 An integral part of the closet of Parsi women, famous in Western India , Gara embroidery is an amalgamation of Indo- Persian influences. Parsi brides are often seen in beautiful traditional Gara Saris with intricate motifs on fabrics ranging from pagodas and dragons to roses, lotuses, roosters and peacocks. 

Another famous western India embroidery is Mirrorwork, which is the craft of encasing mirrors of varying shapes and sizes to create patterns on fabric. Beautiful wedding trousseau are made by women artisans from Gujarat’s Kutch region and parts of Rajasthan who are renowned for their expert mirrorwork.

 Another exquisite embroidery for Bridal wear as well as Sherwanis  is Gota work which is a craft from Rajasthan where strips of gold and silver ribbons are used to make applique patterns on fabrics inspired by local flora, fauna and community life. 

Originated in the North, Kashida is a popular Kashmiri needlework technique with evocative motifs like birds, blossoms, fruits and trees particularly the chinar which are created, usually in a single-stitch style. Another form of Kashmiri embroidery is aari, wherein floral-inspired motifs are embroidered in fine chain stitches using a hooked needle.

 Traditionally practised by the women of Punjab in their homes Phulkari is an embroidery work in which the designs depict colourful motifs using a long and short darn stitch. It is a mandatory trousseau item for the community’s women . 

Kantha is a popular embroidery, practised by women in rural Bengal and Odisha where the patterns are crafted using a simple running stitch themed on daily life, floral and animal motifs and geometric shapes.

 Very commonly found in bridal lehenga zardozi is an artful technique of metallic embroidery which uses fine metal wire or thread in gold and silver to create patterns on different rich fabrics. Varying from 3D patterns to minimal designs zardozi is often found in Indian Couture collections.

 Mukaish and Chikankari are embroideries popularized in the the Nawabi state of Lucknow. Mukaish is created by twisting thin metal strips into fabric wheras Chikankari is the practice of stitching white untwisted yarn on fine fabrics like muslin or cotton but lately has been contemporarised  in wedding outfits as well.

The essence of different types of embroideries from varied regions has its own a kind beauty. However, due to the loss of royal patronage and mass production, the art of hand embroidery is getting , which is indeed a deep rooted inherited tradition since hundreds of years. Today also, all the ‘bole churhiyas and shawa shawa’ dance performances are incomplete on a wedding sangeet without the tale of sewn threads and embellishments on a fabric.