Hand Embroidery in India

Hand Embroidery in India

Kashmiri Embroidery

The Kashmiri embroidery is traditionally known as Kashida Embroidery.  These are objects of rare beauty.

Kashmir is known for its beauty and the Kashisa hand-works are as beautiful as Kashmir.

Zardosi works are done using metal threads on silk and rayon fabric. The Kalka Motif has come from Iran and is found very commonly in the hand embroidery stitches of Kashmir where natural scenes such as – lakes, trees, leaves, mountains, etc. are designed. Motifs of birds with wings are also be to be seen.

The handwork is done so cleverly that, like the dorokha, it appears that the cloth has been worked on both sides. The stitches, like herring-bone rafugiri, chain stitch, batachikan are common.

Gujarati Hand Embroidery

Hand embroidery in Gujarat has always been admired. In the Bhuj area of the state, the patchwork can be seen.  In Kutch the Kantha designs are called the ‘Kabira’.  The people here use coloured thread to make beautiful motifs and designs with the chain stitch. The handcraft of Surat is famous worldwide. Multiple colours and mirror-works are widely found in Kachchhi embroidery (also called Kutch embroidery). Girls wear hand-embroidered Ghagra-choli on the occasion of various festivals and marriages.

Phulkari Embroidery

‘Phul’ means ‘flower’ and Kari means ‘craft or work’. Thus, Phulkari embroidery refers to the Floral work embroidery. Punjab is renowned for the Phulkari hand embroidery.  Phulkari  is a folk art of Punjab. Thick clothes are used and the threads of various colours are used depending on the colour of the cloth. The usage of colour ‘red’ is most common. The designs are so stitched on the reverse as to give the effect of tapestry work.  The borders are so covered as to make it difficult to distinguish between the cloth and the needlework. The motifs at times resemble those on the Kanthas of Bengal. Phulkari embroidery is often found on Shawls and scarves. The use of Darn Stitch is in vogue. The main diference between Phulkari and Bagh embroidery is that, in Phulkari , embroidery is done to enhance the beauty of the clothes. Whereas, in Bagh, the embroidered works covers the entire base of the cloth and the colour of the base cloth is not visible.

Chikan Embroidery

The Chikan embroidery of Luknow is an example of rare beauty. The hand embroidered Chikan sarees and kurtis are also exported to various countries. Chikan is the name for using white thread in needlework on cloth.  The art originated in Dhaka and from there traveled to Lucknow. The stitch is known as bukhia and also chhaya and jaal. A net like effect is created on the front side with stitches, on the reverse  designs are created with fine stitches.

Chamba Rumal of Himachal

Rumal means handkerchief. The hand embroidery in himachal is famous for its Chamba Rumal.  These hand embroideries are inspired from ‘Pahari Painting’.  The fabric used is mostly khaddar or muslin. These have colourful borders and the darning stitch is used on the cloth, the thread being silken. The Chamba Rumal an unique example of the art of the Himachal Pradesh and Jammu, the artists drawing heavily on the mythologies for their designs. The pictoral handicraft in Chamba Rumal are distinct and are in wide demand all over. They are also used as a gift item.

Rajasthan Handicraft

The folk designs  of Rajasthan can be seen in the handicraft works of Rajasthani embroidery. The embroidered seats are often made for horse and camel back. The best examples of this art in Rajasthan can be seen in Jaisalmer where together with stitching their own clothes, the womans also make seats for horses and camels, pillow covers, bed-covers, quilts, decorating these with attractive designs and motifs.

Kantha Embroidery of Bengal

The Kantha Embroidery of Bengal is similar to the hand-embroidery of other places in terms of motifs and the style of stitching. The Sujni Kantha of Bihar, particularly Gaya, Darbhaga and Madhubani, are also made exclusively by women using old pieces of clothes and threads from the sari borders. The simple Motif designs in Bengal, are drawn from everyday life.

Hand Embroidery of Orissa

Orissa is known for her beautiful hand-embroidered works. The motif designs are varied. The embroidery of Orissa usually have a central motif  made with ‘run’ and ‘Chain’ stitches. As in Bengal the designs are often floral.


The hand-embroidery in India has kept alive many an art form that would otherwise perhaps have got lost in time. The artistes give expression to the beauty of life all around, creating property on threads, bringing out the many untold tales of love and affaction.