Updated May 23rd, 2024 at 15:10 IST

Zardozi Embroidery: History, Technique, Usage, Popularity

Zardozi embroidery continues to be a symbol of luxury and craftsmanship in India.

Zardozi work | Image:Google Art & Culture

In recent years, efforts to revive and sustain the traditional craft of Zardozi, have gained momentum, with various organisations and designers working closely with artisans to preserve their heritage and provide them with sustainable livelihoods. The continued appreciation and demand for Zardozi embroidery ensure that this exquisite art form will remain a cherished part of India’s rich cultural tapestry.


Zardozi embroidery, a traditional Persian art form, dates back to the Mughal era in India, flourishing during the reign of Emperor Akbar in the 16th century. The term "Zardozi" is derived from two Persian words: "Zar" meaning gold and "Dozi" meaning embroidery. This luxurious craft involves the use of gold and silver threads to create intricate designs on fabric, often incorporating precious stones, pearls, and beads. Initially patronised by the royals and aristocrats, Zardozi was used to adorn garments, accessories, and home decor items, symbolising wealth and opulence.


The technique of Zardozi embroidery is meticulous and labour-intensive. Artisans, known as Zardozi karigars, work on a wooden frame called an adda, stretching the fabric tightly over it. The design is first traced on the fabric, and the embroidery begins with a fine needle and metallic threads. Traditionally, real gold and silver threads were used, but today, artisans often use a blend of metallic threads and silk to create a similar effect at a reduced cost. The process involves creating a raised pattern by stitching the metallic thread onto the fabric, often enhanced with sequins, beads, and semi-precious stones. This technique requires immense skill and precision, passed down through generations of artisans.

Zardozi designs | Image: Freepik


Zardozi embroidery is predominantly used in creating elaborate wedding attire, especially bridal lehengas and sarees. Its rich and ornate appeal makes it a preferred choice for special occasions and festivities. Besides clothing, Zardozi is also used to embellish accessories like clutches, shoes, and belts, as well as home decor items such as cushion covers, wall hangings, and drapes. The versatility of this embroidery allows it to be applied to a variety of fabrics, including silk, velvet, and satin, enhancing their aesthetic appeal.


Despite its ancient origins, Zardozi embroidery remains highly popular in contemporary fashion. Designers around the world have embraced this traditional craft, incorporating it into modern silhouettes and styles. The timeless elegance of Zardozi makes it a favourite among fashion enthusiasts, with its intricate patterns and luxurious finish appealing to a global audience. High-profile events, such as Bollywood weddings and red-carpet appearances, often feature Zardozi-embellished garments, further cementing its status as a symbol of luxury and sophistication.


Published May 23rd, 2024 at 15:10 IST