PM Co-Founder Neha Chinai recalls a childhood spent in awe of an ancient Indian craft
I grew up in a house where tailors and artisans were constant fixtures – their deceptively grubby fingers hiding generations’ worth of skill and talent. As they sipped their steaming steel cups of chai and listened intently to my mother’s long list of critiques, I would run my fingers over the clothes they brought, the raised gold thread taut under my fingers.
This is my earliest memory of clothes - the raw silk swatches the kaarigars would bring my mother, jewel toned scraps covered with intricate gold thread fashioned into traditional paisleys or lotuses. I would catch a glimpse of what would ultimately become my lehenga for a cousin’s wedding or an elaborate bespoke gown to be shipped to New Jersey for a client.
I learned the word Zardozi before I knew what it meant – before I knew that it found its roots in Ancient Persia and the Rig Veda. Zardozi, translated from Ancient Persian as “Gold Embroidery,” now lives on in India and has evolved into an art that elevates contemporary Indian designers’ creations to the next level. The kaarigars of Zardozi, approximately 175,000 men and women, are mainly centered in eight districts in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Created with metal wire and metal pieces or sequins on a variety of rich materials, Zardozi is one of the most famous and elaborate techniques in metal embroidery. The original embroidery of Zardozi was done with pure silver wires coated with real gold, and was known as Kalabatun. Though silver and gold wires have now been replaced with synthetic threads, the art remains the same.
Shop our collection featuring Zardozi embroidery from India to get a taste of this ancient art form in its new avatar!