Zari: Golden Thread of South Asia

Zari is a fine gold or silver thread used in traditional Indian, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani textiles, particularly as brocade in saris. Zardozi is a type of needlework in which this thread is weaved into silk garments to create intricate patterns and extravagant designs.

Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

During the Mughal dynasty, Zari became popular. Surat,a port of western India coast was connected to the Meccan pilgrimage route, a significant element in India’s revival of this ancient industry.

Also, historically, the Gold embroidery was associated with the grandeur and regal attire of gods, kings, and literary figures (gurus) during the Vedic era, as depicted in movies.
In most silk saris and ghararas, zari is the principal ornamental material.

Zari zardosi, which derives its name from two Persian concepts, “Zar” meaning gold, and “Dozi” meaning needlework, is one of the most important aspects of Persian culture. It is one of the most well-known and intricate metal embroidery techniques, including the creation of intricate motifs with gold and silver threads.

Zarood, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It embroiders metal objects such as sequins and valuable stones on velvet, satin, and heavy silk bases to make the craft more gorgeous. Zari needlework was initially done using kalabatun, pure silver wires covered in actual gold. Nonetheless, due to the scarcity of raw resources, these silver and gold wires were eventually substituted with synthetic thread, maintaining the craft’s authenticity.

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