Boulevard of Threads
The white on white chikan work of Uttar Pradesh is similar to the washable linen embroidery of Europe. Chikankari is a very delicate and intricate shadow work type of embroidery. It is believed to have been introduced by Noor Jahan, the wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir and later was patronized by Nawabs of Lucknow. Parsi embroidery tradition bears its roots in Iran during the Bronze Age, but has drawn influences from European, Chinese, Persian and Indian culture. Gara embroidery, originally considered a Parsi family’s heirloom, has become a rare, collector’s item because of the intricate work and beauty. For centuries, Kantha sewing in Bengal has been an invaluable form of woman’s creative self-expression. It was a social bonding exercise as the women of the household sat together holding a large Kantha spread, between them, as a canvas. Kantha creates the most elaborate and sometimes real-life village vignettes in textile that have become a staple in urbane wardrobes.
With each motif created on a piece of cloth, a story is told, because conversations between threads and hands from different places and times, between cultures and nations, are at the heart of the stories of embroidery.
“If you only embroider and don’t sing, you won’t know the stories of your patterns”
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