India is a veritable treasure trove of fabulous handicrafts and textiles. Almost every region has multiple techniques of decorating and beautifying fabrics unique to the cultural and religious heritage of that area. One of the greatest art forms from India is the gorgeous technique of embroidery. Of course, today, embroidery is practiced around the world but in India it has been practiced for many centuries. The artisans from here create the most intricate and beautiful designs using techniques that have been honed over several generations. Since the saree is the most commonly worn and popular Indian garment, this is the type of clothing that is most often used by artisans and designers as a base for embroidery. Different parts of India have different forms of embroidery to boast of, each with a distinctive kind of artistic aesthetic and look. States like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh are known as the most prolific producers of embroidered sarees.
When it comes to embroidery, sarees are the one garment that will offer the greatest amount of variety and style. This is because embroidery as an art was patronized and encouraged mainly by nobles and royals who had plenty of money to spare and the favorite clothing of Indian noble women since ancient times has been the saree. Moreover, the intricacy and beauty of the designs truly comes out in the saree embroidery because of the flowing, expansive display of material in the garment. Embroidery designs for sarees, though always gorgeous in their look and feel, need not always be formal or festive. They can also be simple, in order to create pretty garments for daily or office wear. They can also have more western style embroidery such as lace, crochet and sequins designs.
Gujarat is a source of some of the most splendid embroidery designs sarees in India. The embroidery is often extremely intricate and done using complicated techniques to get the right look for the saree. Often, colorful silk threads are combined with mirrors to create the famous mirror work embroidery which looks vibrant and extremely beautiful. In the neighboring state of Rajasthan, saree embroidery designs are done using thick and colorful woolen pattu threads which gives the garment a uniquely ethnic look. Patch border work is also added to the sarees along with the embroidered designs.
Another highly coveted and in-demand embroidered saree is the one from Uttar Pradesh. The city of Banaras is known for its gorgeous textiles which combine centuries-old Hindu art with Mughal aesthetics, thus producing some of the most gorgeous garments in India. Zari work, which is done using gold and silver threads, is a good example of this. Zardosi is another similar but more ornate looking form of embroidery used to make the most dazzling hand embroidery designs for sarees. These designs are often influenced by Persian aesthetics and consequently are very artistic and visually appealing.
A particularly intricate and delicate looking embroidery saree from Uttar Pradesh is the one produced in Lucknow. The famous Chikankari sarees are frequently made using light materials in soft, pastel colors which really bring out the beauty of the three dimensional embroidery done on them. In the case of Chikankari embroidery, saree designs often extend all over the fabric.
Each of these embroidery designs for saree fabrics has a different technique and therefore a unique look. From the materials used to the kinds of stitches, the technical specification for each type varies. The most exquisite and attractive looking are the hand embroidery sarees in which each design is unique and exclusive. The machine embroidered varieties may be preferred for every day wear as they are more affordable.
Even the motifs created can change from one region to another. For instance, Phulkari embroidered sarees from Punjab have only flower or floral designs, while embroidery forms from South India often focus on mythological creatures or scenes from the epics. All kinds of nature and religion inspired artistic designs are the norm in most other areas of India.
Styling Embroidered Sarees
Embroidered sarees are a great option for almost any special occasion or festival, though they can be worn for casual wear as well. The type of saree worn and the styling will depend on the occasion at hand. Thus heavy embroidered sarees such as the gorgeous Banarasi sarees with zari or zardosi work should be reserved for weddings and other such opulent occasions. They can be worn with a heavy Kundan set or gold jewelry set to bring out the beauty of the embroidered designs. On the other hand, a white embroidered saree with Chikankari work is a good choice for a more semi-formal occasion like an office party or an evening dinner. The delicacy of the designs will pair well with classy jewelry like pearl jewelry sets or crystal pendants.