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Lucknow Metal Thread 'Laces'

Gold embroidery in Lucknow. Gold embroidery in Lucknow.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the northeastern Indian city of Lucknow was well-known for the production of a wide range of metal threads. 

Some of the threads were used for weaving, while others were intended for various types of embroidery. It would appear that metal workers, embroiderers (zardozi makers; metal thread embroiderers) and a group that are often called ‘lace makers’ (gota makers) were invited to come to Lucknow from various Indian cities, including Agra, Delhi, Lahore and Varanasi. This took place with the support of the then ruler of Oudh, Saadat Ali Khan II (r. 1798-1814).

It should be noted that the term ‘lace maker’ is incorrect, as they were the weavers of narrow braids and trimmings made from silk and metal threads. These braids and trimmings were sometimes embroidered. The term 'lace maker' is indeed sometimes used in the meaning of 'braid maker', because of the fact that the two words (lace and braid) are often interchanged. 

Metal thread production became a staple industry of the city. Apparently the main dealers in Lucknow of metal threads and products were Muslims, called gota wala, who, because of the valuable nature of their goods, were organised into official groups, each under a supervisor called a darogha.

Sources:

  • HOEY, William (1880). A Monograph on Trade and Manufactures in Northern India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (first edition 1880; digitally printed version 2011 by CUP), p. 42.
  • TRIVEDI, Madhu (2010). The Making of the Awadh Culture, Delhi: Primus Books, p. 250.
  • WATT, George (1903). Indian Art at Delhi 1903: Being the Official Catalogue of the Delhi Exhibition 1902-1903, Calcutta: Government Printing Press, pp. 421-422.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 25 June 2016).

GVE

Last modified on Monday, 24 April 2017 12:52