Zardozi is a form of embroidery originally from Jaipur. It is done using golden encrusted wires and can be usually seen on North Indian bridal outfits as it is quite heavy. Traditionally it used to be made for the Mughal and Rajput nobility but is now associated with wedding outfits. Back in time, real gold and silver threads were used to weave but are now replaced by synthetic or tested zari. This is made by pressing melted metal through perforated steel sheets to form wires. These are then hammered to required thinness.
This is a very elaborate form of embroidery and is passed down from generations. Zardozi can be categorized into four categories, namely- Dapka, Salma or Nakshi, Arri work and Badla work.
Dapka – This kind of work involves intricate detailing done with needle and attention is paid to every detail. First a thick cotton cord is stitched on the pattern to be embroidered. The zari thread is then looped on this using a stitching needle. The patterns usually consist of flowers, leaves or peacock motifs.
Salma or Nakshi – This form is not as elaborate as dapka and is also cheaper but is a must for wedding outfits as it shines much more than dapka. This embroidery starts from the exterior to the interior. First the outline of the motif is created using a prefabricated golden thread and then the motif is filled using circular metallic wire.
Arri Work- This is a very delicate form of embroidery done using a combination of coloured and golden thread. The thread is put on a pen like needle which is passed through the cloth giving it a chain stitch effect.
Badla Work – Plain wires are called badla and when woven around threads they are known as kasav. The embroidery done using this thread is known as badla work. This work is commonly seen on bridal outfits.
Zardozi work looks very elaborate and royal but it is always recommended to try out a zardozi outfit before buying it as it usually tends to be quite heavy due to the intricate work and also sometimes the metal threads can make your skin feel itchy. Stay tuned for more on embroidery used on Indian bridal wear from different regions in India.