Zardozi is an ancient Persian art (Zar = gold, dozi = embroidery). It has been passed down for many generations. It is called the queen of all handworks on garments, originally a privilege enjoyed only by the royalty. Pure gold and silver were used for zari threads in olden times but that is now replaced by copper as the base metal to cut costs. Lucknow has been famous for its various handicrafts like chikankari, zardozi and kamdani for as long as anyone can remember. The process of embroidery is starting with the first step of laying out the wooden frame. It is called adda bichana. Four wooden planks are held together with nuts and bolts. Then the fabric is stretched and wound up tightly with a strong sutli (thread) along the width of the frame. This process is called taankna. The next step is transferring the pattern to be embroidered onto the fabric. This process is called chapayi. Motifs include elephants, peacocks, dancing figures, leaves, floral and geometric patterns etc. Zardozi sticthes are done with muthiya, a special kind of wooden needle with a bent metal tip that is used to pull the thread from below the fabric. This kind of stitching allows the craftsmen to use both hands as they work. The hand above the cloth works with the needle while the hand below the cloth ties each stitch. Thus the products are not only beautiful but long-lasting and durable. Most of zardozi embroidery is done with saadi and naksi which are small metallic springs made by swirling metal threads tightly. It is done on all sorts of fabrics like silk, cotton, net, georgette, shaneel (velvet) etc. After all the stitches and embellishments are done, the fabric is unstitched from the wooden frame and the finished garment is sent to the person who commissioned it.
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