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The conventional and traditional embroi-deries of North-West India have
specific references to the style and the techniques which are clearly
understood in their cultural framework. Thus an embroidered fabric is
not an exclusive piece of skilled display of any individual embroiderer
but the expertise of the several who worked on the piece following the
trail of the sequence.
Fundamentally, the embroidery styles of each of these states are
regionally distinguished. The distributive character of these regional
distinctions may be varied. Some of the embroidery styles elucidate the
relationship between the people and their surroundings while others
reverberate the historicity of the linkages, cultural affiliations, migrations
and the settlements.
Interestingly, each of these states has independent schools of needle
work which have allured the native user for ages. Embroidery in these
regions has been a commercial activity as well as a household activity.
The finest examples of embroideries were produced for the court, temple,
market and household.
Embroidery patterns from the region
The mountainous regions of Kash-mir and Himachal Pradesh have nurtured
specific embroidery stitches in local stylised picturesque depictions.
The styles practised in the Kashmir Valley include sozni, rezkar, tilla
dori work, crewel embroidery, watchikan, and papier maché designs. The
range of embroidered forms include wraps, costumes, furnishing items
and accessories. The designs and motifs in Valley embroidery are mainly
of the natural flora and fauna of the valley along with depiction of
scenes of processions of the nobility. Sozni or the amlikar embroidery is
the extension of the rafugar stitch practised in the 18th century to
join the woven Jamavar shawls. This is the basic darning stitch employed
to create very fine minute designs. Dorukha shawl in this stitch is one
of the finest examples.
nce of the subject matter.
Pichvai of Rajasthan done in the fine chain stitch with silk thread are
the back drops used for the Shrinathji Temple (Shrinath is another name
for Lord Krishna). This is another localised tradition which depicts
Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, with dark blue face.
Meghavals, Rabaris, Raikas, Ahir, Mochi, Banni and several other groups
have their distinctive embroidery styles. The powerful impact of
religiosity and ethnicity is distinctly visible in the visual imagery of the
Rabaris are a community spread in Rajasthan, particularly in the
district of Kutch. The rulers of Kutch, the Jadeja Rajputs were the patrons
of the mochi bharat kam also known as ‘ari work'. The shoe makers or the
mochis worked with a small crochet-hook-like instrument called ari to
decorate the silk garments and the decorative objects with the chain
stitch. The lyrical compositions of peacocks, alternated with maidens and
flowers with a typically graded colour scheme are some examples.
Some of the settlers from other countries, when settled in these
regions, continued to practise their indigenous styles of embroidery.
Chinai is the type of Chinese embroidery practised by the descendants
of the Chinese embroiderers settled in Surat, Gujarat during the
nineteenth and twentieth century. These groups are making long borders in fine
Chinese stitch even today. They are attached to saris or other dresses
Today, Indian embroidery has been well taken into international haute
couture. Consequently, various traditional embroideries have found a
foothold in fashion houses.
Hand embroidery is a time consuming art. Increased demand of this
handiwork affects the quality. Therefore when designers think of adapting
various traditional embroidery techniques in contemporary fashion usage,
it is important for them to gauge the availability of the talent
available for this kind of handiwork.
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