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A tradition is believed or behaviour passed down within a group or society with symbolic meanings. Embroidery is an art of decorating cloth with needle work using different types of threads to create appealing designs. Embroidery of India includes dozens of regional embroidery styles varying by different region and has a wide variety due to the use of different materials. Various types of Indian embroidery contains different aspects of regional specialty like Kantha embroidery of West Bengal, Kashida from Kashmir, Phulkari from Punjab, Chikankari from Uttar Pradesh, Kasuti embroidery from Karnataka, etc.



It is a domestic and folk art of Bengal, done on the old and discarded garments like layers of dhoti and sari, which stitched together with simple running stitch in white thread., provides protection from cold. `Kantha' means 'rags' in Sanskrit, which reflects the fact Kantha embroidery is classified into different types such as Arshilata kantha, baiton kantha, Durjani kantha, Lep kantha, Oaarkantha, Rumal kantha, and Sujni Kantha depending on the use of the finished products in the art. Basically, this embroidery involves simple running stitch. Usually, the motifs are Universe like Padma or lotus, Gods and Goddesses, animals like duck fish peacock; floral & geometric patterns. The embroidery threads used are taken from the old sari borders.

Kantha was mainly used as quilts and also offered to special guests to sit or sleep on it and include bags for keeping money and book cover. It was presented to the bride and groom as well as used to wrap valuables and gifts. Other uses of kantha embroidery, is done on single layer of white or colourful fabric base of stoles, dupattas, saris and suit materials.


Chikankari embroidery, known as Shadow work by using herringbone stitch from the wrong side of the fabric and creates shadow on the right side and at the same imparts an outline to the motif. It is an integral part of the life and culture of Lucknow and recognized, worldwide. The name Chikan has been derived from the Persian word 'Chakin' or 'Chikeen' meaning a kind of cloth with needle work. Chikan is said to have originated as a court craft during the reign of Mughal emperor Jahangir, by his wife Noor Jahan. Traditionally, the Chikankari was exclusively done on white fabric (known as Tanzeb) using white thread. The motifs are inspired from nature's flora motifs including flowers, jasmine, rose, and birds like peacock, parrots and lace-like patterns.

There are three types of stitches used in chikankari: Flat stitches, such as Taipachi (running stitch), Ghaspatti (fill with petals and leaves), Pechani (running stitch in regular manner), Bakhia (herringbone stitch, done on both side of the fabric) and Thurs (cross stitch done on the right side of the fabric). Embossed stitch such as Hool (button hole), Gitti (button hole and satin), Murri (French knot), Phanda (French knot), Janjira (chain stitch). Jali work is the most striking feature of chikankari, creates delicate net effect on the fabric. Earlier brass, bone, copper or iron needles were used whereas now days, only steel needles are used for fine embroidery, was done on white tanjeb; the muslin from Dacca, using only white untwisted cotton or sometimes tussar silk for embroidery. It is used on all imaginable garments.


Kathiawar embroidery was introduced by kathi, the cattle breeders, the wanderers brought by Karna- the famous warrior of Mahabharat. This embroidery is colourful lavishly done on ghagras, choli, choklas, chandarawas and torans using base fabric of cotton with colourful threads. Different styles of kathiawar embroidery are Heerbharat, Abhla Bharat, and Moti Bharat.The motifs used in Gujarati embroidery are mostly taken from flora and fauna follows as flowers, creepers, trees, peacocks, parrots and elephants. Besides flowers and animals, human figures in different poses like dancing women and men are also seen in some styles of Gujarat embroidery.


Zardosi embroidery has been in existence in India from the time of the Rigveda. The word 'Zardozi' is made up of two Persian terms, zar+dozi, Zar means gold and Dozi means embroidery and it was also known as Bharatkam of India.

It involves making elaborate designs, using gold and silver threads. Further adding to the magnificence of the work are the studded pearls and precious stones. The embroidery is done on different fabrics like velvet, satin and silk with a variety of zari threads and materials like badla (the untwisted wire), salma (stiff finely twisted circular wire) gijai (twisted metallic wire), dabka (zig-zag coiled wire), sitara (small circular disc), pearls and coloured beads. The different stitches used in Zardozi are chain stitch, stem stitch and satin stitch. The fabric to be embroidered is first stretched on a rectangular wooden frame supported on two tripods called a karchob, a hook or an awl is used to execute the embroidery. The motifs are used in this embroidery mainly floral and geometrical, some popular motifs are creepers, flowering bush, floral scrolls and intricate jail patterns.

There are two embroidery styles namely Karchobi and Kamdani under Zardozi. In Karchobi, the fabric is clamped on wooden frame and elaborately embroidered to create decorative home furnishings and ornate apparel. Kamdani is lighter embroidery done on apparel like dupattas and scarves without clamping the fabric on any frame. The embroidery continues traditionally done on one of the most favored ornamentation for decoration of apparel such as lehenga choli, purses, sari etc. Presently, Zardozi is also explored on different types of base material like jute to develop trendy products like bags, bedcovers, cushion covers, curtains, palanquin covers, trappings for elephants, and decorative fashion accessories.


The Parsi gara, in a nutshell, is three things. Indian embroidery with a Persian heritage and a Chinese origin. The Parsi embroidery can be traced back to 650 AD where Persian women undertook the Indian style of clothing. Parsi men travelled to China and brought yards of silk fabric for their women. The gara was a result of inter-cultural amalgamation where the fabric was China's and the embroidery was heavily influenced by India's Hindu and Iran's Zoroastrian cultures.

Techniques used to create Gara work:

The main stitches that are all intricately entwined are satin stitch, crewel stitch, stem stitch and French knot. Geometric designs are rarely used and most patterns are influenced by scenes and stories of Chinese origin, such as the bridges, pagodas, boatmen and shrines. The colours comprise of two shades. The base fabric is generally darker with ivory thread work or a pastel coloured textile is embroidered with multicoloured threads.

How long does it take to make a Gara sari?

Depending on the density of the work, it can take anything from three weeks to two months. And when I say two months, I mean six to eight people working on one sari together.

What is the base fabric of the sari? Even though the sari is covered in silk thread embroidery all over, it has a nice flow to it and can be draped well. The original fabric was called ‘Sali Ghaj’, which has very thin lines running through it.


Overview of the Embroidery Industry and its Indian Aspects

Embroidery is the oldest and most popular forms of surface beautification of fabrics and garments, and India is among the top suppliers of embroidered fabrics and garments worldwide. The sector is now getting more organised, with large players entry. Demand for garments embellished with embroideries with sequins and crystals are quite strong in the international market, as also in India. However, while embroidery is used in a whole lot of products internationally, the market is still an unexplored one in India.

The size of the Indian embroidery market is slated to be around Rs 800-900 crore per annum. Realising the huge potential of embroidery, some large players have entered the sector. Embroidery, till a decade ago, was largely in the unorganised sector, with very small units, typically with 2 and 4 embroidery machines. Today, organised players' account for 60 percent of the market. The domestic embroidery manufacturing is almost totally unorganised, with very small units situated in various parts of the country. This was more of a cottage industry. Most of the exporters in this segment do not have their own manufacturing facilities but get the orders outsourced (job work).

Embroidery job work is huge art of making very good and designer sarees or salwar kameez. Here are thousands of Textile and embroidery unit in Surat city. Approximately more than 1000k computerized embroidery machines in Surat. Surat is a hub of embroidery machine in India. You can also get some good and well known embroidery units in Ahmedabad, Ludhiana, Tiruppur, Coibatore, Bhilwara and other cities.

As per survey report of Rojgar India more than 22L people depends on embroidery machine and relevant business in Surat. Embroidery machine sector create largest employment in Surat city and India.