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22 Apr '16

Indian, Pakistani, Islamic and Middle Eastern Embroidery

Posted by Nosheen Z in Middle Eastern Embroidery

The fancy artwork used in fabrics is termed as “embroidery.” In simple terms, embroidery is art of embellishing fabrics. In practical terms, it is the art or handicraft of decorating fabrics or other materials with designs stitched in strands of thread or yarn using a needle.

The history of origins of embroidery is unclear, but it has long been popular art in many of Asian, Middle Eastern, European, African, and American countries. Elaborately embroidered clothing, religious objects, and household items have been a mark of wealth and status in many cultures including ancient Persia, India, Byzantium, medieval England and Baroque Europe. The hand embroidery has been a traditional art form passed from generation to generation in many cultures, including northern Vietnam, Mexico, and Eastern Europe. Embroidery has also been richly used in religious draperies of several religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, etc. Embroidery is still very popular art in several cultures of China, India, Pakistan, Middle East and Egypt.

Usually, fine quality colorful threads are used in embroidery. Silk threads are used in opulent types of embroidery, and Gold and silver fibers are used in extremely expensive embroideries. Sometimes, the expensive materials, such as expensive metal strips, pearls, beads, quills, and sequins, are used in expensive embroideries.

Traditionally, embroidery is done by “hand”, however in modern times sewing machines have been quite often used. The embroidery by machines is called “machine embroidery.” There are several forms of embroidery used all over the world. 

Indian & Pakistani Embroidery

Embroidery is very popular in several cultures of India. Kashmiri embroidery is very popular in the Northern India. Kashmiri embroidery or kashida is extremely beautiful embroidery. Kashmiri embroidery designs are often drawn from scenic beauties of nature, flowers, creepers and chinar leaves, fruits, etc. The whole pattern of Kashmiri embroidery is created using one or two embroidery stitch styles. The craftsmen used floral colored threads to create fantastic embroidery. Kashmiri embroidery is popular in shawls, kashmiri suits, lady suits, shervanis, sharwar kameez used by Hindus, Punjabis, and Muslims of the North India.   

Sozni embroidery or dorukha is another skilful embroidery form in which designs appear on both sides of fabric, in different colors both side. There is no wrong side of fabric. This form of embroidery is particularly popularly done on shawls, “chunries” or “dupatas” and saris in the North India.

'Papier mache' embroidery is another popular form of embroidery in India. In this type of needle embroidery, flowers and leaves are worked in satin stitch in bright colors such as those of papier mache and designs are then outlined in black. This embroidery is done either in broad panels on either side of the breadth of a shawl.

Ari or hook embroidery is another popular form of embroidery in India. This embroidery is known for its floral designs finely worked in concentric rings of chain stitch. This embroidery is the same as colored Zari or ari embroidery.

Embroidery is extremely popular part of Indian and Pakistani women drapery. Kashmiri embroidery is very popular in Muslim wedding dresses. The Muslim wedding dresses, such as lehnga- kurtis (women), dupattas, suits (women), Shervanis (men), and Shalwar Kameez (men) have finely worked embroidery designs. Usually the neckline, cuffs, shoulder seams, fronts, and bottoms have rich floral embroidery designs. Usually ari or hook embroidery is used to embroider fine designs on neckline, cuffs, and shoulder-seams of the Muslim bridal dresses. The wedding salwar kameez of the Muslim men also have rich embroidery designs at necklines, shoulder seams, cuffs, and sometimes fronts. Kashmiri embroidery is also popularly used in carpets, rugs, mats, and wall hangings. 

Silk is one of the most coveted textiles used to tailor Indian and Pakistani Muslim wedding dresses. Usually silk threads are preferred for embroidering Indian and Pakistani Muslim wedding dresses. However sometime extremely expensive embroidery on the Indian and Pakistani Muslim wedding dresses use some precious materials, such as gold & silver fibers, pearls, beads, quills, and sequins.

Some cheap quality, but better looking silky threads, such as rayon is used to embroider routine wears of Indian and Pakistani women dresses. In some cultures of India and Pakistan, women are very particular and selective about the embroidery on their dresses. Usually cotton or some other cotton mix fabrics are used for routine wears. Indian and Pakistani Muslim religious caps also have rich embroidery works. Indian and Pakistani Muslims also use richly embroidered religious drapery, such as head clothes, prayer mats, clothes wrapped around the holy “Quran,” etc.  

Sozni embroidery is popular in women shawls, dupattas and sometimes on Saris. Hindu women wedding dresses also have fine embroidery designs. Again, Silk is the most preferred textile for tailoring the Hindu women wedding dresses. Usually, highly expensive fine quality silk threads are used in Hindu wedding Saris. Sometime gold & silver fibers are also used to show off expensive embroidery designs on Hindu wedding Saris.   

Embroidery is extremely popular part of the Punjabi women dresses. The Zardosi workmanship is the most ornate and tedious form of Indian embroidery used in several cultures of Indian and Pakistani Punjab. This form uses metal thread instead of the usual silk or rayon. The fabric, usually silk or velvet is used for Zardosi Embroidery. Sometimes this embroidery uses precious stones, beads, pearls, and gems in Embroidery. This embroidery was once popular part of the women of royal families of India and Pakistan. Nowadays, this is one of the most expensive forms of embroidery. This embroidery is popularly used in some highly expensive Punjabi Suits popular in both India and Pakistan. Usually, Silk or velvet is the coveted fabric for Punjabi wedding dresses and often expensive Punjabi wedding dresses have rich Zardosi embroidery designs. Silk, Gold or Silver fibers, pearls and beads are used for embroidery work on expensive party wears of Indian and Pakistani Punjab. However the rayon or some other fine threads are used for embroidery work on routine Punjabi wears. 

Embroidery work is also very popular in Punjabi “Juttis” (shoes). Punjabi “juttis” of both men and women have rich embroidery works. Usually, fine quality gold or silver color fine fibers called “tilla” is used for embroidery works on Punjabi “Juttis.”

Phulkari work is also popular part of Punjabi women dress. Phulkari literally means flower work. Often the word Phulkari is used for head cloth/odini/shawl of Punjabi “mutiars” (young Punjabi women). Phulkari is extremely popular in the Malwa region of the Indian Punjab. Pulkaris are also popular in Pakistani Punjabi women. Phulkaris often have rich floral embroidery designs. 

Middle Eastern Embroidery (Also used in Islamic Clothing

Persian embroidery is very popular in the Middle Eastern cultures. The Persian embroidery is form of Persian art. The Persian embroidery uses floral designs and especially Persian figures, animals, and patterns related to hunting.

The embroidery in the Middle Eastern cultures is popularly used on divan coverings or ceremonial cloth for present-trays, carpets, rugs for the bathing-rooms, prayer-mats, women's embroidered trousers known as ‘naghshe,’ and religious drapery, such as that used in covering or wrapping around the holy Quran, or religious head covering or caps. Hardanger embroidery or Hardangersom is popularly worked on the religious drapery of the Middle Eastern Cultures. Embroidery is popularly used on “ghutras” or head coverings used by men and women. 

The embroidery in the Middle Eastern cultures is more often used in carpets and rugs rather than the routine clothes. The Middle Eastern “Kaleens” (carpets or rugs) manifest the royal tastes of the Arabian cultures. The Middle Eastern carpets and rugs are popular all over the world. 

Suzani is popular textile of some Middle Eastern cultures. Suzani is an antique and decorative tribal textile made in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and other Central Asia countries.

Jewish Kippahs (religious caps) have also rich embroidery designs. The Jewish and Christian religious drapery is also richly embroidered.