Everything You Need To Know About Hand-Embroidery
Hand embroidery is famously recognized as the art of fabric decoration. In India, as in many other parts of the world, this process has been a favourite pass time of women for centuries. Since the time a thread and needle were discovered, women started to create simple designs and initials on various kinds of fabrics. The more skilled workers would also decorate cloth with stones, sequins, beads and buttons. To put it simply, hand embroidery was and still is the ideal way to lend a touch of personalization to your clothing.
The origin of hand embroidery and other kinds of needlework arts can perhaps be traced back to the Middle Eastern and Orient countries. The early generations of humans discovered that the stitching done to join skins of animals may also be used to embellish different materials. If you research art in the 1100’s, you will find that people sewed tiny seed pearls on vellum for decorating religious items. In the 1200’s and 1300’s, this bead embroidery started to be done on clothing and 1500 A.D. witnessed a flourishing of embroideries in Europe and in several other parts of the world.
There is a vast difference in the yarns and fabrics utilized for traditional hand embroidery in different places. While silk, linen and cotton have served as popular fabrics for hand embroidery for centuries; modern hand embroidery may also be done on rayon and on certain novelty yarns.
Hand Embroidery in India
Indian hand embroidery has received praise from artists and fashion designers from all over the world. In fact, this praise started way back in 3rd century B.C. This is when Megasthenes, a Greek traveller had come to India and showered the Muslim embroiders with compliments for their brilliant skill. In the medieval Islamic times, the art of hand embroidery was given much importance. It was referred to as the “craft of the two hands” by Evliya Celebi, a Turkish traveller who came to India in the seventeenth century.
Most of the Indian embroidery seen today is inspired from religion and nature. In fact, the theme, style and colours used in the embroidery will reflect the essence of a specific region and its culture. We can broadly classify Indian embroidery into the following categories:
Surat is world famous for its handicrafts and the Bhuj area is particularly known for its patchwork designs. People in Gujarat utilize colourful threads for creating beautiful designs and motifs using the chain stitch technique.
Rajasthan is known for its folk designs and besides stitching clothes women also create beautiful embroidered seats for camel and horse backs. These are especially popular in the city of Jaisalmer.
Chumba Rumal is the most recognized form of hand embroidery in the Himachal. These unique hand embroideries get their inspiration from ‘Pahari Painting’. Muslin and khaddar are the main fabrics used for embroidery in this region.
The term ‘phul’ implies a ‘flower’ while ‘kari’ indicates ‘work or craft’. Therefore, phulkari hand embroidery is essentially floral embroidery and has its origins in Punjab. The most famous piece of clothing with this kind of floral embroidery is the phulkari dupatta which is adorned with a lot of pride on festivals and other special occasions.
The Sujni Kantha originating from Bihar, especially Gaya, Madhubani and Darbhaga, are made by women with the help of sari border threads and old fabric pieces. The Kantha embroidery gets its inspiration from the simple daily life and activities of the locals.
Hand embroidery patterns are typically dependent on the fabric used and the type of stitch is decided on the basis of the effect/style desired. In India, the patterns have usually been religious, floral or animal-inspired and each style of embroidery has an interesting history of development.