Embroidery in India includes dozens of regional embroidery styles that vary by region on the varied Indian clothing Styles. Designs in Indian embroidery are formed on the basis of the texture and the design of the fabric and the stitch. The dot and the alternate dot, the circle, the square, the triangle and permutations and combinations of these constitute the design.
This embroidery style is made by the Rabari or Rewari community of Rajasthan and Gujarat. This very colourful embroidery style, using stark contrast was traditionally used only for garments, but now it can be found on bags, accessories, home furnishings, etc. Mirrors of all shapes and sizes are incorporated in the embroidery, as a result of the belief that mirrors protect from evil spirits. Designs include not only flowers and fruit and animals such as parrots and elephants, but also temples, women carrying pots, and the ubiquitus mango shape.
Kutch Cushion Embroidery
Aari work involves a hook, plied from the top but fed by silk thread from below with the material spread out on a frame. This movement creates loops, and repeats of these lead to a line of chain stitches. The fabric is stretched on a frame and stitching is done with a long needle ending with a hook such as a crewel, tambour (a needle similar to a very fine crochet hook but with a sharp point or Luneville work. The other hand feeds the thread from the underside, and the hook brings it up, making a chain stitch, but it is much quicker than chain stitch done in the usual way: looks like machine-made and can also be embellished with sequins and beads – which are kept on the right side, and the needle goes inside their holes before plunging below, thus securing them to the fabric.
Cotton Tambour Embroidery on Net.
Practiced by the Lambada gypsy tribes of Andhra Pradesh, Banjara embroidery is a mix of applique with mirrors and beadwork. Bright red, yellow, black and white coloured cloth is laid in bands and joined with a white criss-cross stitch. The Banjaras of Madhya Pradesh who are found in the districts of Malwa and Nimar have their own style of embroidery where designs are created according to the weave of the cloth, and the textured effect is achieved by varying colours and stitches of the geometric patterns and designs. Motifs are generally highlighted by cross-stitch.
Banni or Heera Bharat
The Banni or Heer Bharat embroidery originates in Gujarat and is practiced mainly by the Lohana community. It is done with silk floss (Heer means “silk floss”) and it is famous for its vibrancy and richness in color pallets & design patterns, which include shisha (mirror) work. Bagh and phulkari embroidery of the Punjab Region has influenced Heer Bharat embroidery in its use of geometrical motifs and stitchery.
This embroidery flourished in the princely hill states of Kangra Chamba, Basholi, and other neighbouring provinces. Chamba region has highly skilled craftsmen.
Chikan or Chikankari
The present form of chikan (meaning elegant patterns on fabric) work is associated with the city of Lucknow, in Uttar Pradesh. Chikan embroidery on silk is Lucknow’s own innovation. The other chikan styles are that of Calcutta and Dacca. However, characteristic forms of stitch were developed in Lucknow: phanda and murri.
Chikan embroidery is believed to have been introduced by Nur Jahan, the wife of Jahangir. Chikan embroidery involves the use of white thread on white muslin (tanzeb), fine cotton (mulmul), or voile, fine almost sheer fabrics which showcases shadow work embroidery the best. Other colours can also be used.
The artisans usually create individual motifs or butis of animals and flowers (rose, lotus, jasmine, creepers). The designs are first printed onto the fabric not with chaulk, but with a mixture of glue and indigo.
At least 40 different stitches are documented, of which about 30 are still practiced today and include flat, raised and embossed stitches, and the open trellis-like jaali work. Some of the stitches that are used in Chikankari work include: taipchi, pechni, pashni, bakhia (ulta bakhia and sidhi bakhia), gitti, jangira, murri, phanda, jaalis etc. In English: chain stitch, buttonhole stitch, French knots and running stitch, shadow work. Another is the khatao (also called khatava or katava).
It is a form of appliqué in gold thread, used for women’s formal attire. Small pieces of zari ribbon are applied onto the fabric with the edges sewn down to create elaborate patterns. Lengths of wider golden ribbons are stitched on the edges of the fabric to create an effect of gold zari work. Khandela in Shekhawati is famous for its manufacture. The Muslim community uses Kinari or edging, a fringed border decoration. Gota-kinari practiced mainly in Jaipur, utilising fine shapes of bird, animals, human figures which are cut and sewn on to the material.
Naksha is embroidery on many layers of cloth (like quilting), with running stitch. It is also known as dorukha which mean the designs/motifs are equally visible in both sides: there is no right or wrong side so both side are usable. Traditionally, worn out clothes and saris were piled together and stitched into quilts. Rural Bengali women still do this with cotton saris, the embroidery thread being taken from the sari border. It started as a method of making quilts, but the same type of embroidery can also be found on saris, salwar suits, stoles, napkins, etc. Themes include human beings, animals, flowers, geometric designs and mythological figures. Different types include Sujani kantha, Durjani kantha, Lep kantha, Archilata kantha, Rumal kantha and Oaar kantha.
It is a raised Zari metallic thread embroidery created by sewing flat stitches on cotton padding.
This technique is commonly used for bridal and formal costumes as well as for velvet coverings, tent hangings, curtains and coverings animal carts and temple chariots.