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Exploring the Exquisite Craftsmanship of Aari Work: Types and Equipment

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

In the world of traditional Indian handicrafts, Aari work stands out as a true gem. This ancient form of embroidery has been passed down through generations, preserving its intricacy and beauty. Aari work, also known as "zardozi," is renowned for its meticulous detailing, fine threadwork, and the use of metallic threads to create stunning patterns and designs. In this blog post, we delve into the captivating world of Aari work, exploring its history, techniques, and the timeless appeal it brings to garments and accessories.

1. A Rich Historical Legacy:

Aari work has a rich history that dates back centuries. Originating in the royal courts of Mughal India, this art form was highly valued and patronized by emperors and nobles. Over time, Aari work spread across the country, becoming an integral part of traditional Indian craftsmanship.

2. The Art of Aari Embroidery:

At the heart of Aari work lies the technique of using a specialized hook-shaped needle, known as the "Aari needle," to create intricate patterns on fabric. Skilled artisans meticulously stitch threads onto the fabric, giving rise to beautiful motifs, floral patterns, and geometric designs. The use of metallic threads adds a touch of opulence and grandeur to the embroidery.

3. Versatility and Application:

Aari work finds its expression in a wide range of garments and accessories. It adorns the elegance of bridal wear, embellishes the beauty of sarees, enhances the charm of dupattas, and enriches the intricate details of traditional attire. Additionally, Aari work is also used to create exquisite home decor items like cushion covers, wall hangings, and table runners.

Types of Aari Work:

a) Zardozi: Zardozi is a prominent type of Aari work that utilizes metallic threads, such as gold or silver, to create intricate designs on fabric. It is often associated with opulent and luxurious embellishments on bridal wear, sherwanis, and formal attire.

b) Resham Work: Resham, meaning silk, is another popular variant of Aari work. In this style, silk threads are intricately stitched onto the fabric, creating vibrant and colorful patterns. Resham work is commonly seen on sarees, salwar suits, and dupattas.

c) Gota Patti: Gota Patti is a form of Aari work that incorporates the use of gota, which are narrow strips of metallic ribbon. These ribbons are stitched onto the fabric, forming elaborate motifs and borders. Gota Patti work is commonly found on traditional Rajasthani attire, lehengas, and festive wear.

d) Cut Dana: Cut Dana refers to the technique of using small round beads or sequins to create sparkling patterns on fabric. These beads are carefully stitched using Aari needles, enhancing the overall texture and shine of the design. Cut Dana work is often seen on evening gowns, saree borders, and festive garments.

e) Pitta work: Pitta work is an ancient kind of embroidery in which the filling is completed with the aid of metal wires before being pounded or beaten to a uniform texture.

f) Shisha embroidery: Shisha embroidery also known as mirror work, is a traditional form of embellishment that originated in the Indian subcontinent. It is characterized by the use of small pieces of reflective mirrors, known as "shisha," embedded within the fabric to create eye-catching designs. Shisha embroidery has a long history and is known for its vibrant and sparkling aesthetic, making it a popular choice for adding a touch of glamour to various textiles.

Equipment and Few Raw Materials for Aari Work:

a. Aari Needle: The primary tool used in Aari work is the Aari needle, also known as the tambour needle. It is a specialized hook-shaped needle with a small hook at one end and a wooden or plastic handle for a comfortable grip.

b. Embroidery Frame: A wooden or metal embroidery frame is used to stretch the fabric taut, providing stability and support during the Aari embroidery process. It helps to maintain the tension of the fabric, allowing for precise stitching. Commonly used term is "khatla" for bigger frames to fit bigger pieces of fabrics.

c. Threads: Aari work typically involves the use of fine threads, such as silk or metallic threads, to achieve intricate detailing. These threads come in various colors and are selected based on the desired design and effect.

d. Beads: Metallic Threads and Sequins: For embellishments like Cut Dana work, a variety of beads and sequins are utilized. These come in different shapes, sizes, and finishes, adding a touch of sparkle and dimension to the embroidery. Metallic threads in silver, gold, antique etc. are used as well. The plain wires are called “badla” while the round ones are called “kasab”.

e. Fabric: Aari work can be done on various types of fabrics, including silk, satin, velvet, georgette, and cotton. The choice of fabric depends on the desired drape, texture, and overall look of the finished garment.

f. Embroidery Stand: An embroidery stand or a table clamp can be used to secure the embroidery frame, allowing the artisan to work with both hands freely. This helps maintain a consistent stitching rhythm and prevents strain on the hands.

g. Tracing Paper and Design Transfer Tools: Tracing paper and design transfer tools, such as carbon paper or washable fabric markers, are used to transfer the design onto the fabric before starting the Aari work.

h. Scissors and Needles: Basic sewing tools like scissors and needles are necessary for cutting threads, trimming excess fabric, and finishing off the embroidery.

3. Time-Intensive Craftsmanship:

Aari work is a labor-intensive art form that demands patience, precision, and dedication. The intricate needlework requires hours of meticulous effort, transforming plain fabrics into masterpieces. The artistry lies in the delicate balance between the density of the stitches, the choice of threads, and the interplay of colors.

4. Revival and Contemporary Adaptations:

In recent years, Aari work has experienced a resurgence in popularity, as designers and fashion enthusiasts recognize its timeless appeal. Contemporary adaptations have introduced innovative elements, blending traditional techniques with modern aesthetics. This fusion has given rise to unique designs that cater to the preferences of today's fashion-conscious individuals.

5. Celebrating Handmade and Sustainable Fashion:

Aari work represents more than just beautiful embroidery; it symbolizes the essence of handmade craftsmanship and sustainable fashion. By supporting artisans skilled in Aari work, we contribute to the preservation of a traditional art form and promote ethical fashion practices.

Aari work is a testament to the skill, artistry, and cultural heritage of Indian craftsmanship. Its delicate stitches and intricate patterns have captivated hearts for centuries, transcending time and trends. Whether adorning a bridal ensemble or gracing a home decor piece, Aari work adds a touch of elegance and craftsmanship that is unparalleled. Let us cherish and celebrate this magnificent art form, ensuring its legacy continues to shine brightly in the world of fashion and design.

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