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Indian Silk House Agencies - ZARDOSI

Zardosi Embroidery

Zardosi is a form of embroidery that came to India form Persia.  In the word zardosi, “zar” is referred to gold and “dozi” is referred to the word embroidery.  Metallic-bound threads are used to sew embellishments on various fabrics. The Mughal rulers have introduced to the heavy and intricate style of design.

Zardosi found its base with thousands of artisans who have passed on this trade among their families and other communities. Although zardosi’s exact origin still not known, Indian city of Lucknow became the major center of this art form. There are several romanticized stories related to the origin of zardosi, however, till date there are enormous small business enterprises that specialize in Lucknow Zardozi.

However, zardosi is particularly popular in countries like Iran, Pakistan and India.

Origin & History

Zardosi style of embroidery has found its earliest mention in Vedic Literatures, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. “Kalabatun” is the original process, where silk threads wrapped in real gold and silver wires are used to decorate satin and velvet fabrics. Along with threads, luxurious embellishments like sequins, beads, precious and semi-precious stones even pearls were sewn on variety of fabrics. In fact when the Mughal era was at its peak, this was used to adorn the tent walls in the form of tapestries, wall hangings, as well as on accessories for elephants and horses.

Lucknow, however became the main center for zardosi embroidery. The technique however, was introduced during Auranzeb’s reign in the 12th century. With Mughal emperors’ support , the talents of Zardosi art spread across India. With the rise of gold and silver prices, over the time, the use of such expensive materials became difficult. Therefore the artisans decided to use synthetic threads or copper wires polished in gold and silver. Zardosi became a commercialized technique in doing so, though some of the glory of the traditional heritage oof this craft was lost.

Cities like Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Kashmir, Kolkata, Varanasi and Farrukkbadare are also known as Zardozi specialty regions. This has differentiated the craft from imitation products for shareholders and has also helped to retain one of the finest and oldest art forms of Lucknow.

Sources of Inspiration

Lucknow Zardozi has more ornate and heavy designs, with a 3D quality to their motifs. This is a similar style to the Delhi Zardozi work, whereas Hyderabad and Agra tend to keep patterns minimalistic, with a focus on simple but large motifs. The inspiration for all motifs has always been nature. From flowers, leaves and trees to animals and birds, the national ecology of India seeps in to all Zardozi embroidery.

The Making

The techniques, tools and raw materials used to create Zardozi are the same across India and adhere very closely to the original and ancient techniques. 

The basic technique is 4 fold:

        Designing:  This is the initial stage of the process, where the entire design is drawn on to a tracing sheet and holes are made along the traced pattern using a needle. While the patterns from the Mughal period all comprised of complex nature, floral and leaf motifs, contemporary patterns are more geometric stylizations of similar motifs.

        Tracing: In order to trace the design on to a fabric, the papers with the patterns are placed on a flat table with the fabric underneath. A kerosene and Robin Blue solution is made and wads of cloth are used to dip in it, which are then wiped against the tracing sheet. This enables the ink from the sheet to seep in to the fabric.

        Setting the frame or “Adda”: The design imprinted fabric is stretched over a wooden frame. The size of the frame can usually be adapted to the size of the fabric. Using bamboo or wooden spars, it is then stretched out and tightly held to give the cloth a uniform tension. The artisans then sit around this frame to begin the embroidery work.

·         Embroidery: A crochet-like needle that is fixed to a wooden stick called “Ari” is used to carry out the embroidery. As opposed to a regular needle and thread, the Ari greatly speeds up the work as the artisans can pass the threads both above and below the fabric. Depending on the intricacy of design and number of artisans working on a piece, this phase can take anywhere from a day to 10 days. So the ultimate tool is a steady hand and nimble fingers


From dresses to coats, from purses to belts to stoles to shoes, there are a range of products using Lucknow Zardosi these days. There was a drop in the popularity of zardosi post-independence. Hoiwver, in the last 50 years this has made a steady come back. The large local fashion houses are bringing it to the forefront at Fashion Weeks.


Modern Indian designers have brought this art from villages which have been specializing in Zardosi for generations. 


One of the most desired embroideries for weddings is Zardosi hand embroidery. Zardosi work sarees are designed with golden threads laid over the fabric. The extensive use of golden threads makes these sarees thick and heavy. It takes a lot of hard work and precision by skillful artisans to select the right raw material and stitch Zardosi sarees online. Zardosi work sarees are further enhanced with the use of the heavy stone work. This gives the sarees their exotic appeal and richness just right for the big fat Indian wedding.


Zardosi wedding lehengas are also popular because of their richness and elegant appeal. Zardosi can be used on different materials and it looks good with the entire color palette. This gives the artisan a lot of creative freedom and gives the wearer the option to choose from hundreds of styles and designs. Now, you can buy Zardosi sarees online from the online ethnic store of Indian Silk House Agencies  and make your choice from many designs and styles. You can select a saree depending on the occasion, type of fabric, blouse neck, pallu style or saree border. When you buy Zardosi sarees, the advantage you get is that you can wear it with unique and rich accessories. The best way to wear Zardosi sarees is with Kundan jewellery or Polki jewellery. This gives the outfit a richer look and completes your ethnic avatar for that wedding you have to go to!