The Princely Art of Zardozi Embroidery

This beautiful art of sewing with gold and silver threads finds its earliest mention in Vedic literature, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and many accounts of the Sultanate period. Therefore, it is no surprise that the historical accounts of this craft are rather romantic in nature. The only certainty is that 'zarkas' — a Persian word meaning zari or gold embroidery — was widely used in all the accounts. History states that from the 13th century, the craftspeople who worked with this medium, setting seed pearls and precious stones with fine gold and silver wire, were known as 'zardos' workers. 

Under the patronage of Emperor Akbar, Zardozi embroidery became one of the most coveted traditional crafts in India. Even though Zardozi is believed to have its origin in Persia (Zar in Persian means gold and Dozi is embroidery), the use of gold and silver thread work, in fact, goes back to ancient India, visually evident in the figures that adorn the walls of the caves of Ajanta. 

Traditionally, the art of Zardozi used only gold and silver wire along with precious gems and diamonds but with time, silk and other shining threads like dabkaa (a combination of gold and silk threads), kasab (silver or gold-plated silver threads) and bullien (copper and brass coated threads) replaced them. The beauty of Zardozi is emblematic of the Indian royalty. Although the use of real gold and silver threads in zardozi embroidery may have declined, its richness and allure still endure the test of time.