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Indian Crafts >> Embroidery
Embroidery
Indian Crafts - Embroidery
History of Embroidery

Kashmir has a long tradition of embroidery introduced possibly during the reign of Zain-ul-Abdin. The art of working raised designs in threads of silk, cotton, gold or silver upon the surface of woven cloth with the help of a needle has been known here since very early times.

From 16th century a professional style of courtly and trade embroideries emerged from Gujarat. Intricate art of embroidery adds hue to the dusty deserts of Rann of Kutch. An indispensable element of Gujarati culture, embroidery is an art of perfection and detail. Region from Bhavnagar to Rajkot is well known for embroidery work. Artisans, mainly women, are wives of herds men, nomads and farmers working for an extra bite.

Embroidery done in metal wires by kalabattu or zari as it is popularly called, is in a class by itself. The manufacture of real zari threads was once a large and important industry, which has declined with the advent of synthetic materials.The zari craft is one of the oldest in Gujarat. Surat is the most important zari manufacturing centre in India today.



The embroidery art form of the chamba Rumal oriented in the erstwhile princely hill states of Chamba, Kangra and nearby states. The artistic styles of the Bahari Miniature paintings on Rumal which was influenced by Mughal miniatures and flourished in the 18th & 19th centuries.

Embroidery is one of the crafts introduced, developed and popularised by the western missionaries. It has provided employment to a few thousands of women in Kanyakumari district alone. Work ship is of very high order.

In the field of ornamentation perhaps embroidery alone can match jewellery in splendour. Man seems to have a craving to embellish a given material or object to make it more decorative. Indians use all the embroidery stitches known to the rest of the world but with local variation and innovations. In India embroidered fabrics still retain the old social values for they are amongst the treasures given to the bride at the marriage.According to an old tale the elaborate and elegant design called akoybi found in Manipuri embroidery is said to have been copied from the body of a legendary snake pakhamba which the husband of a goddess killed but later he tried to atone by imitating the beautiful scaly pattern of its skin.
Fine Art
There are many kinds of embroidery here. Kasida done on shawls, silk and linen, sozni (very fine needlework), chickindozi (medium fine needlework), falakdozi (hookwork) are the most popular ones. In Kasida the designs are made in bold colourful strokes with a dark outline. Suzni employs only such stitches as will show uniformity on both sides of the material and is used in shawls. Zalakdozi is done on almost anything from chogas (cloaks) to rugs with long and flowing designs. Embroidery done on Kani shawls is called amli and it is done in multi coloured threads. The patterns are elaborate with delicate fill in stitches.

Gujarat is known for its embroidery in an immense variety of styles and techniques. Here, women, not only embroider their ghagras and cholis but also items for decorating their houses, such as the toran, which graces the doorway the tondli to cover the door- frame,the Chakla and Chandrawa (square and rectangular pieces) used as wall hangings to enliven the surroundings, and others. The rich embroidery work of Bhuj (in Kutch), Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Ahmedabad is famous.

Stem and satin stitch are generally used, the stitches being worked obliquely, the stem stitch without any foundation of running stitch. Leaves are generally worked in raised satin stitch entirely covering the cloth over a padding of varying degrees of thickness. The colours in these vestments are fixed, white symbol of light, purity red is for blood and in use at Pentecost and on Martyrs days green in hope for certain Sundays such as after Epiphanyviolet or purple for penance used in Advent and Lent;rose for joy;black for mourning used on Good Friday, All Souls Day, Mass for the dead. The main vestments are flowing robes, stoles, cloaks, surplices, etc. One notable feature of the craft is that it is done by men alone.

In the field of ornamentation perhaps embroidery alone can match jewellery in splendour. In Delhi embroidered fabrics still retain the old social values for their amongst the treasures. Bed sheets and enthralling show of weaves, motifs create an authentic Indian ambience in home touched with the warmth and vivacity of traditional motifs.

The lyrical theme of krishna-leela, the exploits of Krishna, is favourate source to draw upon. In the centre is krishna with a lotus frower and dancing around are the gopis, a nayika painting for her lover or people at a local fair. The spaces between the stitches are interspersed with flowering bushes, animals, birds and the whole is in lovely mated colours.

The larger designs feature the temple, the basilplant(tulsi) platform, the elephant with howdah, nandi the sacral bull etc. The motifs like flowers, birds, animals and a large variety of geometrical design are also very popular.

Manipur has only one style of embroidery which is exclusively its own with practically no variety in stitches, so overwhelmed does this region seem by its rich weaves. The phanek is the plain fabric in a dark shade or with plain stripes in three colours. Akoybi is the most significant design having two shades of red with the reflection of the other, with a little black and just a touch of white. The abhala (mirror) embroidery is found only on the raas dance costume. Among other embroidered designs, mention of the animal motifs seen on the black shawls must be made which are called Angami Naga Shawls.
Procedure
Some of the designs in Pashmina and Jamawars are exclusively embroidered. The stitch, a kind of parallel darn, lifts the loop of the warp. The embroidery caught in all the loose ends of the weave, highlighted the edges of patterns in silk threads of different colours and rendered the texture free of imperfections. The highlighting of the edges was done in obliquely overlapping short darn stitch. The border pieces of woven and embroidered patterns were joined to the plain central field. The embroidered often carried the design further on the central area strengthening and disguising the joint.

Abhala Bharat - Embroidery designs are prepared by fixing small round shaped mirrors to the material with the help of the buttonhole stitch, the outline being sketched by hand. Silken thread is used for the stitching done in stem or herring bone, closely worked. Flowers and creepers are patterned against a dark background.Mochi Embroidery - The traditional mochi embroidery of Bhuj, Kutch, had its origins in the pastoral (traditions) of Gujarat. Traditionally the Mochi was a cobbler who worked on leather using the available hides, which were fashioned into saddles, harnesses, shoes, caps and bags decorated with embroidery. Later the same technique was used on cloth. It is also known as aribharat called after ari, a hook, plied from the top but fed by silk thread from below with the material spread out on a frame. This movement creates loops, and repeats of these lead to a line of chain stitches. Heer Bharat - Rich all over embroidery in long stitches, this style derives its name from floss silk, locally called heer, used in the embroidery. Its long stitches and embossed designs form an all - over design covering the entire surface. The patterns run in triangles each parallel to the weft and yield unusual textures with a clever illusion of light and shadow of two shades without changing the colour of the thread. The main colours are madder red emphasized by touches of black and off white. A little mirror is inserted in coloured button hole stitch to emphasize a design. A special elongated drawn stitch called a diya fatiya, endows the pattern with a vibratory quality, so that glittering objects do not need to be used for high ornamentation. Sindhi Taropa or Interlacing Stitch - The use of an interlacing stitch to emphasize the movement of figure or some of its special characteristics, called sindhi taropa is interesting. This stitch according to experts is not determined by the texture of the textile. It is worked upon but only by the ingenuity of needle women. The basic structure in this style is first built up with the use of long thread stitches on the surface. Around this the entire design is executed by the looping of threads. Thread Less Embroidery - Without using a thread and only with the help of brush and natural colours embroidery is being done by few artists here.

The cloth to be embroidered is stretched out on a frame and then the design is traced out. For working with gold or silver cords and spangles, the design is outlined with gold cord secured on the foundation with an invisible overcast stitch. At the beginning and end of every round, the cord is treated into a needle of appropriate size and passed through to the wrong side. When this outline is completed, the inside of the design which may be the petals of a flower, are frilled in with spangles, each secured by a small piece of purl is cut into the required lengths, one of which is treated onto the needle. The needle is then thrust back into the material on the other side of the motif and brought out again on the first side. The piece in some cases is finished off with an edging of golden lace.

The cloth to be embroidered is first stretched out on a frame and then the design is traced out. Stem and satin stitch are generally used, the stitches being worked obliquely, leaves are generally worked in raised satin stitch entirely covering the cloth over a padding of varying degrees of thickness.For working with gold or silver cords and spangles, the design is outlined with gold cord secured on the foundation with an invisible overcast stitch. At the beginning and end of every round, the cord is threaded into a needle of appropriate size and passed through to the wrong side. When this outline is completed, the inside of the design which may be the petals of a flower, are filled in with spangles, each secured by a small piece of purl is cut into the required lengths one of which is threaded on to the needle which emerges to one side of the motif from the material. The needle is then thrust back into the material on the other side of the motif and brought out again on the first side. The piece in some cases is finished off with an edging of golden lace.

Exquisite embroidery on fine cotton with equally fine silk threads and in contrasting colours is done on these rumals. It is like a needle painting. The work is done in reversible flat stitch. The design is first traced out and then filled in. The work is simple, chiefly running stitches, the return stitching filling in the gap, which gives a uniform appearance to both sides.

Embroidery displays a combination of the cross-stitch and the line or double running stitch.

The embroidery is the border of the phanek, a women lungi, which is woven in dark stripes against pink background, with silken untwisted thread. The colours usually being dark red, plum or Chocolate. The phanek is sometimes a plain fabric in a dark shade or with plain stripes in three colours. Akyobi is another significant design in embroidery. Akyobi means circular and in it one circle joins the other, each being further broken into patterns each with a significant motif. The colours used in the design are two shades of red with a little black and a touch of white.
Resources
Basic Material : Colours, threads, pearl.
Decorative Material : mirror.

Basic Material : Silk, cotton silver and golden threads.
Decorative Material : Mirrors, stylised flowers.

Basic Material : gold and silver threads, chalak, salma, kmari, tikki katori, rings, stars and spangles.

Basic Material : Gold or silver cords, different colours of threads

Basic Material : square piece of silk, colours, silky thread, needle etc.

Basic Material : Cloth, threads, needle etc.

Basic Material : Chisel, untwisted silk thread, colours
Equipments
needle

Needle, paint brush



needle





Artifacts
Sarees, shawls, garments, tapestry, cushions, household linen, soft leather, bed spreads, bags, shoes, handkerchiefs.

Ghaghras, choli, toran, tondle, chakla and chandrawa, square and rectangular pieces, bed covers, floor covering, wall hangings, pillow covers, bags, house decorations, kurtas, chania choli, lungi, blanket, chakada, wall piece

Chalak, samla, kinari, tikki katori, rings.

bed sheets, small fancy bags, etc.

rumals , kerchiefs

bed spreads, pillow covers, tables mats, sofa backs etc.

phanek , multicoloured cloth, generally known as lungi, akoybi, angami naga shawls
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Indian Crafts : History of Embroidery