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ZardoziZari and Zardozi Crafts of India
An Online Guide

January 2018
Compiled by Shaista Anwar Khan

Gold and silver embroidery styles traditionally made on dresses in some towns of India and elsewhere are known as Zardozi. Zar in Persian and Arabic means gold while dozi is Persian for ‘embroidery’. The art of zari has been associated with the aristocratic and royal class in India for a long time. Zardozi was used to adorn walls of the royal tents, scabbards, wall hangings and the paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses. The work involves making elaborate designs, using gold and silver threads. Further adding to the magnificence of the work are the studded pearls and precious stones. Zardozi embroidery work is mainly a specialty of Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Kashmir, Mumbai, Ajmer and Chennai. For the time being, Surat and Banaras remain the principal suppliers of Zari material and Zardozi crafts. Delhi is also one of the most important center for this craft because presence of large number of Zardozi artisans.

Historically, Adiparva and Sabhaparva of the Mahabharata give interesting accounts of costly cloths embroidered with gold. Valmiki’s Ramayana also speaks about cloths embroidered with gold and silver. Jain literature gives interesting information about silver and gold work on cloths. Moreover there are several Greek traveller accounts that describe Indian embroidered cloths in 4th century BC. There are several sources that mention embroidery work during the Sultanate era in India, but Ibne Batuta who traveled in India during 1287-1290, extensively wrote about gold and silver embroidery. The word appeared for the first time in the autobiography of Firoz Shah Tughlaq “Futuhat-e-Firozshahi.” It has elaborate descriptions of the dresses of Sultans. During the British era, the Zardozi craft got a setback since the British wanted to promote European goods including textile in India. Karkhanas and Riyasati Karkhanas were shut down. Many craftsmen left Delhi and went to the courts of Rajasthan and Punjab in search of work. With 18th and 19th century bringing industrialization, the craft suffered another setback. Here are some online resources about zari and zardozi:

Charu Smita Gupta, "Zardozi: Glittering Gold Embroidery", Abhinav Publications: 1996. https://books.google.co.in/books/about/Zardozi.html?id=ylDrAAAAMAAJ

Jayatra Mandal, "Zari-work and it's issues and challenges: a case study of part of Udaynarayanpur block, Haora, West Bengal".

Virendra Singh Rawat, Lucknow zardozi gets GI registration, Business Standard, 24 April, 2013.

CM Announces Marketing Hubs for Weavers, Zardozi Artisans, The Pioneer, 26 August 26, 2017.

Shailvee Sharda, Lakhnavi zardozi to get GI tag soon?, The Times of India, Jun 10, 2010.

Suzanne Pennell, “The Art of Gold Embroidery from Uzbekistan”, Story brifge Press: 2015.

Ambedkar Hastashilp Vikas Yojana (AHVY), Ministry of Textiles,

Cultural India, Indian Crafts, Zardozi in India

Encyclopedia of Intangible India, Zari, Zardozi and Tinsel Embroidery,

The fascinating heritage of Zardozi Embroidery, Heritage India - Vol 3 Issue 4,
Ranadeep Bhattacharyya and Judhajit Bagchi.

Zari Zardozi - Varanasi, Golden Embroidery By Prof. Bibhudutta Baral and Rakshitha, NID, Bengaluru

Zari-Zardozi, Varanasi, Dsource Ekalpa India

Wikipedia on Zardozi

Zari Zardozi, AIIS/Columbia University video

Ari Embroidery (video), Victoria and Albert Museum

This list is in progress. Please let us know if you know of some good archive on the Internet which concerns us and we may have missed. Please report if you find any dead links.

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