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Indian Embroidery

Updated on February 14, 2013

Diverse Variety of Indian Embroideries

Traditionally, embroidery has been the forte of the housewife. It is used in decorating cloth on clothing, bags and other materials. This lens takes you through the various loops Indian embroiders usually work into cloth.


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Gota and Kinari

Akin to applique, gota work involves placing woven gold cloth onto other fabric to create different surface textures. Kinari, or edging, as the word suggests, is the fringed or tasselled border decoration. This art is predominantly practiced by Muslim craftsmen.


The bagh is an offshoot of phulkari and almost always follows a geometric pattern, with green as the basic color. Green is probably predominant because Muslims have traditionally been doing bagh work. Although lacking in technical finesse, it makes up for the loss by a variety of colorful motifs. Simply everything goes into the design - elephants, houses, crops, the sun, the moon, gardens and even kites.

Chamba Rumals

Chamba Rumals:- The red and orange richly embroidered silk scarves of Chamba are simply beautiful. They often depict scenes from the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Raaslila of Radha and Krishna. The embroidery is done in silk yarn on tussar (silk) or fine cotton. The ground is usually white or cream, but the embroidery threads (usually red and orange) are in striking contrast.

This is my favorite type of decoration because it looks so beautiful


The women of Rajasthan and Gujarat traditionally carry embroidered torans (frieze), dowry bags, shawls, cholis (blouses) and dupattas as part of their dowry. This work can be identified by its use of tiny mirrors with colorful threads that shape floral and figurative designs. Its shiny brilliance makes it a hot favorite with tourists.


Kantha Bihar and Bengal are known for their simple embroidery called kantha which is nothing more than patterns traced in a running stitch with short gaps. Floral, animal and bird motifs embroidered on both cotton and silk are extremely popular.


Kashmir is known for phirans (woolen kurtas) and namdahs (woolen rugs) with big floral embroidery in cheerful colours. Crewel embroidery is the same as chain stitch, is usually done with an awl (a small pointed tool for making holes) and is worked from underneath the fabric rather than above.


Zari is gold, and zardozi embroidery is the glitteringly ornate, heavily encrusted gold thread work practiced in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir and Delhi. Of course, the days of using real gold and silver thread are now history. What you can get, however, is synthetic or 'tested' zari embroidery. Metal ingots are melted and pressed through perforated steel sheets, to be converted into wires. They are then hammered to the required thinness. Plain wire is called badla, and when wound round a thread, it is called kasav. Smaller spangles are called sitara, and tiny dots made of badla are called mukaish.



Chikankari Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh is the hotbed of white thread embroidery on white or colored cotton. Intricate and complex, this work is similar to what is commonly known as shadow work. The beauty of the embroidery comes through on fine muslin cloth, where you can see the stitches forming lace-like patterns on the underside.


The embroidery of the lamada gypsy tribe of Andhra Pradesh, banjara is a mix of applique with mirrors and beadwork. Bright red, yellow, black and white colored cloth is laid in bands and joined with a white criss-cross stitch.


Embroidered extensively in Haryana and Punjab, the phulkari shawl is a spectacular piece of clothing. Birds, flowers and human figures are normally embroidered on red or orange khaddar (coarse cotton cloth made of handspun yarn). The design is fed into the cloth from the reverse side using darning needles and one thread at a time, leaving a long stitch below to form the basic pattern. The embroidery is usually done with silk or satin thread, in both a vertical and horizontal pattern so that when the phulkari is finally ready, the play of light on its shiny surface lends it breathtaking beauty.


Dharwar (Karnataka) is home to kasuti, a delicate single thread embroidery done on handloom saris. Motifs consist of temples, peacocks, elephants, flowering trees and geometric forms spread across the sari.

Indian Embroidery

Indian Cloths

Although embroidery is used to decorate Indian cloths, there are other ways, like bandhani and block printing

All these cloths are differnt, yet beautiful, but you ought to make sure that the style you choose makes you happy.

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    • KANEsUgAr profile image

      KANEsUgAr 6 years ago

      So beautiful, got to appreciate the craftmanship.

    • profile image

      prerna68 7 years ago

      nice share!I'm from rajasthan and love the textile tradition of India.Visit me on my Web

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      The throw pillows are really pretty. I've embroidered so I know how much work goes into it.

      Great lens.