India has an extremely diverse and rich culture when it comes to fashion. The states of India have beautiful collections of embroidered fabrics and the most amazing part is that they are all unique. The delicacy and precision of hand embroidery in India is exquisite.
Phulkari of Punjab:
The word Phulkari can be translated into ‘flowercraft’. The creations are called phulkaris if the embroidery is simple and sparse or baghs if the embroidery is dense. The base fabric is khaddar and shiny silk threads are used to create a colour illusion. They are usually colourful. The stitches are usually geometric in shape. Nature is the predominant motif in Phulkari– vegetables, gardens, flowers and animals. There are different kinds of phulkaris (Chope, Suber, Saloo) and baghs ( Bawan bagh, Darshan dawar) depending on the occasion it is used for.
Its exact origin of is debatable but it has been around in Punjab since the 19th century. It is considered a very important item of a bridal trousseau. Nowadays the creation of the Phulkari has become machine oriented, but it still remains one of the most beautiful embroideries.
Kantha of Bengal:
Kantha essentially means patched cloth. Kantha upholds the art of turning old, worn out apparels into something beautiful. Kantha can be traced back to various origins- from Buddhism to Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita.
Originally it was practised on old saris and dhotis after putting them in layers and traditional kanthas were double sided. Common motifs in kantha fabrics is the Universe, folk stories, deities and Nature. It thus has a cultural feel to it. The kantha embroidery can be done on various objects ranging from cushion covers to garments and are named accordingly.
Nowadays, of course, the embroidery is done on new vibrant fabrics and it is one of the things Bengal is famous for.
Chikankari of Uttar Pradesh:
Chikankari or shadow work is done using white thread on diaphanous muslins called tanzeb. The origin cannot be identified for sure, but the stories are surely interesting. The stitches are the most important component of the chikankari work- flat stitches, embossed stitches and Jali work. Floral and creeper motifs dominate in this embroidery, as do fruits and jewellery.
Chikankari is done on male, female and kids clothes alike. In today’s times, chikankari is used on base materials like voile, georgette, chiffon and many more. It is a favourite among fashion designers to experiment with. It is now a flourishing industry.
Zardosi, undoubtedly, is one of the most gorgeous embroideries practised in India. It goes back a long way in the Indian history. It is of two kinds: Karchobi and Kamdani. Zardosi is practised on silks, brocades, satins and crepes.
Previously the zari was a combination of only silver wire and gold leaves. Now, however, due to the availability of different metals, zardosi work can be of various types. It can be used on garments as well as for adorning any other cloth. The tradition has been revived by some of the top designers of the country and has gained international fame.