Embroidery (Zardozi ) & Chikankari
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dresses for wedding
Much favored by the Mughals, particularly Akbar, to match their exalted status-expressed in their dress that was richly embroidered by gold (Zar) embroidery (Dozi) . The motifs and borders were floral etc. Today it is manifested contemporaneously into various designs to reflect the tasks of all the people of the world . The material used , besides gold and silver thread , is quite diverse , such as silk thread, sequins , crystals , beads , glass and metal threads etc. Some of the materials are very expensive but others are reasonably low. Any way, the attractiveness is no less and innovativeness , now, has given a new look and dimension to this art. Some work is really heavy because of the density of design or the weight of the material. Colour schemes , designs and material selection are immense . There are borders, collars, motifs and other uses on the garments. Antique looks, rich gold, silk thread finesse and magic of crystals and glasses could be created by choice. Zardozi is the epitome of embroidered artistry. Apart from the traditional dresses it is used on denims, bags, belts, bands andfootwear. Furnishings, curtains, cushions, covers and other such things, would instantly turn into works of art with the touch of Zardozi .
Zardozi is a lofty and exclusive form of embroidery that carries our imagination to the dizzy heights of fashion and design . This art of embroidery is timeless and its manifestations are limitless . They have the daintiness of lace and the boldness of gold. The embellishment could be simple or intricate but they are always impressive . It speaks of high taste . Their popularity since antiquity prove that the superlative descriptions are only modest . Their use is as popular as that of lace and brocade but far more emphatic and spectacular. It adorns the coats and jackets , skirts and blouses, formal dresses and wedding dresses , curtains and cushions . They are also used as framed pictures , decorative coverings and wall - hangings or any such that requires grand decorative tones. Imaginative ideas and concepts are effectively translated into this art form of embroidery where the medium of silk thread , beads , wires , sequins , glass etc. are put to use by supremely skilled hands . This work has great range and capacity to be simple and inexpensive or intricate and expensive .
Chikankari-the distinctive clothing for the Nawabs:
Chikankari, or Chikan, for short is an embroidery that was much favoured by empress Noor Jehan, consort of Jehangir the Mughal ruler. By and by this intricate embroidery form was developed to perfection in Awadh, especially its capital Lucknow, under the patronage of the Nawabs and amirs. This is an extremely tedious work of thread and needle that requires extreme patience as it takes a long time to progress. Families of the artisans have established themselves over the centuries and only the most promising amongst them are initiated, to train rigorously for 15to20 years before they become mastercraftsmen. This art of embroidery is extremely cultivated and is exclusive to this place. Popularly it is used for kurtas, dupattas, salwar-kameezes, curtains, pillow-covers, bed sheets etc. Imaginatively it could be put to other uses also. Today it is worked on a variety of clothes, like muslin, rubina, georgette and organdy etc . It is very graceful and tastefully adorns the young and the old of both the genders. Typically Indian but equally suited to and adapted by the Americans, Europeans and the Asians. Comfortable and lightweight wear that permits skin to breathe. Chikankari of Lucknow lives forever and it is truly remarkable that its popularity has never seen lean days. It remains an all time favourite.
For the summer months of north Indian plains in the dry heat of May and the humid sweating days of July when temperature would cross 43 degrees pure cotton of light weight muslin was the most comfortable wear. During the day time plain muslin was worn but for the evenings after a cool refreshing bath a much embroidered long shirt (kurta) dabbed with the choicest scent was worn for socialising. Special sort of cotton thread embroidery in the fashion of shadow work (chikankari) was done on these kurtas to give them some formal look.
Since then , in todays application, chikankari has adopted various usages in clothes and linen, handkerchiefs and napkins, alongwith tapestry coverings, mats and so many other things. It has a beauty of the undertone in its traditional style, but now even dark and boldly conspicuous designs on dresses and materials are created. The threads are colourful and the clothes are just as varied in their texture and weight.
Chikan in this new manifestation retains its personality and distinctiveness but has become far more utilitarian. It is not very expensive, but very exclusive and a class by itself.
It can give a lacy impression of a dainty and melting design. It can also be in contrasting colours that do not play hide and seek. Curtains would look beautiful and fairy landish. Table cloths, place mats and napkins with this work would speak of your high taste. Mats on the furniture would be very useful and effective. We can use this embroidery in so many formal and casual things and it always fits in the role. Imaginative use of this craft would open new applied forms.
It is hand-crafted ; tediously done by specialized artisans, who take up no other work. This place had started this work and even now it is the only place where these artisans live and work.