Indian Embroidery Work - History & Evolution

Indian Embroidery Work - History & Evolution

Adornment or decorating is one such thing that adds beauty to anything. In the same way, embroidery is one such thing that adds beauty to the fabric or any other material. This art is done using thread and needle.

Embroidery’s origin dates back to 30,000 BC or Cro-Magnon days. It is also believed that this handcraft works originates in the Middle East and Orient. People of ancient days have realized that stitches, which they use to join animal skins, can even be used to decorate the fabrics.
Back in 1100 A.D., people used small seed pearls to design the religious cloths. This kind of embroidery gained its popularity during the 1700’s. The bead embroidery visible in the court dresses, furnishing items and layette baskets stands as an example to this.
In countries like Byzantium, Persia, China, ancient, India, Japan, medieval and Baroque Europe, the clothes/objects that had embroidery work done on them were usually seen as a symbol of wealth.
The methods which are used to patch, join, reinforce and tailor the cloth lead to the development of sewing techniques. However the traditional style of hand sewing got disappeared by the 1800’s with the development of technology and industries. It was then that the Berlin wool-work and Art needlework appeared on the screen. 1870 is the period of canvas thread embroidery and Berlin wool-work where as 1880 is the period of cross-stitch and printed colors.
Different parts of the world used different kind of yarns and fabrics. The selection and use of the fabric mainly depended on the culture and the availability of the raw materials.

Wool, linen, and silk have been in use for thousands of years for both fabric and yarn. Today, embroidery thread is manufactured in cotton, rayon, and novelty yarns as well as in traditional wool, linen, and silk. Ribbon embroidery uses narrow ribbon in silk or, most commonly to create floral motifs.
Among all expensive yarns, chain stitch, laid-work or couching is most economical surface embroidery techniques.

Indian civilization has rich tradition of fabrics along with long ornamentation on the clothes. Spindles and needles have revealed from Harappa excavations. Historians of ancient Greek Herodotus and Strabo have described Indian cotton’s beauty.


Clothes usually come in different weaving styles. Just observing the States of India alone, the different states follow their own style. These different weaving style stands as another trademark of each states, such as, the Maheshwari and Chanderi is from Madhya Pradesh, Kanjeevaram from Tamil Nadu, Banarasi Silk of Uttar Pradesh, Narayanpet and Jamdhaniand Venkatgiri of Andhra Pradesh and so on. All these fabrics are adorned by weaving gold zari on them.


Fabric printing techniques

Bandhej, Bandhini, Sanganer and Bagru, Kalamkari, Bagh, hand block prints, plethora styles are various kinds of printing techniques used to print on fabrics. Rajasthan, Machilupatnam, Bengal and many other places are the origins of this fabric printing techniques.

  • Posted on November 7, 2014