Zardozi or Zar-douzi, also Zardosi, work is a type of embroidery in Iran, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Turkey, Central Asia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Zardozi comes from two Persian words: zar or zarin meaning ‘gold’, and dozi meaning ‘sewing’. Zardozi is a type of heavy and elaborate metal embroidery on a silk, satin, or velvet fabric base. Designs are often created using gold and silver threads and can incorporate pearls, beads, and precious stones. It is used as decoration for a wide range of applications, including clothes, household textiles, and animal trappings. Historically, it was used to adorn the walls of royal tents, scabbards, wall hangings and the paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses.
Initially, the embroidery was done with pure silver wires and real gold leaves. However, today, craftsmen make use of a combination of copper wire, with a golden or silver polish, and silk thread.
Drawing of Delhi gold embroiderers at work in 1870, by John Lockwood Kipling
Gold embroidery has existed in India since the time of the Rigveda, between 1500 and 1200 BC. It prospered during the 17th century during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar, but later a loss of royal patronage and industrialization led to its decline. The craft began to experience a resurgence in popularity following India’s independence in 1947.
Today, zardozi is popular in the Indian cities of Lucknow, Farrukhabad, Chennai and Bhopal. In 2013, the Geographical Indication Registry (GIR) accorded Geographical Indication (GI) registration to the Lucknow zardozi. With GI status, zardozi artisans, distributors, and retailers in Lucknow and the six surrounding districts of Barabanki, Unnao, Sitapur, Rae Bareli, Hardoi and Amethi can become authorized users of the “Lucknow Zardozi” brand and carry a unique mark of authenticity.
Zardozi is an important handicraft in Persian culture. It is known around the country by names such as zar-douzi , kam-douzi , gol-douzi and kaman-douzi. Nowadays it is more popular in Hormozgan, especially in Bandar-e Lenge, Bandar-e Abbas, and Minab.
Persian zardozi is of three kinds:
Some people completely sew the basic fabric with Bakhie in order to produce novel patterns and colors, such as the Baloch’s Souzan-douzi, Rasht’s Qollab-douzi and Kerman’s Pate-douzi.
Some sew with less density of work on the original fabric. They cross the strings throughout the woof of the fabric and sew them to each other to form a colorfully patterned lattice, such as sekke-douzi or qollab-douzi in Isfahan.
A third way is to sew a variety of patterns on the original fabric with gold and silver strings, such as Dah-Yek-Douzi (Persian: دهيکدوزی), Naqade-douzi, Tafte-douzi, Kous-douzi Zari-douzi or Golabatoun-douzi.