Five Embroidery Styles in India

Digging into the rich embroidery history of India

The major embroidery styles flourished in Northern, Western and Central India – Kashmir, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal and Bihar, to name a few. Let’s navigate the states by knowing their popular needlework styles and use.

Kashida from the Kashmir Valley

The intricate Kashida design is inspired by the scenic beauty of the valley and its base material includes wool, Cotswold and silk wool—all dipped in an intriguing range of vivid, pop colours. Kashida’s distinctiveness lies in its stitch. Satin, stem, darn and stain stitch are mostly preferred for Kashida. On Kashmiri shawls, regional garments, and tapestry the artwork historically thrived.

Chambarumal from the Himalayan Foothills—Chamba

Chambarumal is primarily embedded into the 17th and 18th of Chamba

This embroidery style is prevalently found on khaddar and mulmul. Chambarumal has a rich cultural legacy and its designs represent anecdotes from Ramayana and Mahabharata besides portraying the different avatars of Lord Vishnu. The figurines take inspiration from miniature Pahari paintings. In this embroidery style, patrons are usually mesmerised by the art of “dorukha-tanka” – a double-satin stitch.

Aari from the Land of Kings—Rajasthan

Aari embroidery is a rendezvous of chain stitch loops, using beads and sequins. This court embroidery primarily engaged the male artisans and the products were meant for the royalty. Aari reigned supreme in the Mughal courts. Its heyday was perhaps during the British Raj when the colonial elites enjoyed the sophisticated and delicate design and became a dedicated patrons besides the courtly maharajas and princes.

The embroidery style varies from one state to the next; Delhi has a different version of Aari while Lucknow is famous for another. Aari work is vivid on traditional apparel and jewellery.

Banjara—from the Nomads of Telengana

The nomadic tribes of Banjara use ghungroos or bells, mirrors, shells and coins to complete the embroidery and distinguish the art. The artwork integrates an enchanting fusion of patchwork and mirrorwork found on a range of clothing and accessories. Threads in vibrant yellow, red, off-white, green and black are used rendering the entire piece fiercely beautiful and elegant. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Banjara is its versatile stitches – Bakkya, Kaudi, Bhuriya, Pote and Nakra, to list the prominent ones.

Kasuti from Karnataka

Kasuti’s origins could be traced to the Chalukyan period and the womenfolk of Mysore is known for practising the embroidery style. Motifs are typically the architecture of South Indian temples; palanquins, lotus flower and parrots. Animal motifs are infused in varied frequencies. Kasuti is done on cushions, curtains and bed sheets.

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