Embroidery or the art of needlework resulted from the passion of womenfolk to express their creativity and ornament their apparel and household textiles. Primarily a feminine art, young girls learned the craft from their mothers and older women in the family. The artistic expressions of the embroiderer are skillfully created on fabric with a simple tool, needle or a hook needle known as awl or tambour.
The art of embroidery dates back to as early as the Indus Valley civilization. Bronze and copper awls excavated in Harappa confirm that embroidery was a practiced craft in ancient times. Though none of the embroidered samples exist from primitive times, travelogues of foreign visitors to India mention about prevalence of ornamented textiles in Indian kingdoms. Megasthenes, a greek traveler during the Mauryan period in 4th century BC has referred to elaborate gold patterning on robes of royalty, possibly using embroidery as a technique for fabric decoration. Another traveler from the 13th century, Marco Polo has described the intricate embroidered textiles from eastern and Western India. The oldest existing embroidered pieces that are available for reference are from the 16th century ad, which include textiles exported to europe or articles prepared for royalty.
different embroidery styles have developed regionally in India that has a distinct identity of their own. Cotton, silk, woolen thread or gold/silver is used to embroider on various media, from cotton, silk, woolen fabric to velvet and leather. Besides thread, pieces of fabric, beads, mirrors, shells, coins, precious stones and sequins are also used for embellishing the fabric. With the passage of time, a variety of embroidery designs have been created by artisans from their own imagination.
The Indian embroideries can be classified on the basis of the technique of production or as per the region of production.
The Indian embroideries are classified on the basis of region as follows:
- Northern India:
- Kashida from Kashmir
- Phulkari from Punjab
- Chamba rumal from Himachal Pradesh
- Western India:
- Embroidery from gujarat
- Parsi embroidery
- Central India:
- Chikankari from uttar Pradesh
- Phool Patti ka Kaam from uttar Pradesh
- Zardozi from uttar Pradesh
- Southern India:
- Kasuti from Karnataka
- lambadi embroidery from andhra Pradesh
- Eastern India:
- Kantha from West Bengal
- Sujani from Bihar
- Pipli appliqué from Orissa