Indian subcontinent

Indian subcontinent

The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam houses an ivory-coloured, Indian shawl made of cotton crêpe. It measures 137 x 114 cm and is decorated with sprigs of flowers with a green leaf, embroidered in silk. It is dated to the late eighteenth century. A wooden block was probably used to transfer the outline of the motif to the cloth.

Craftsmen in India and beyond produce various types of metal threads and metal thread embroidery. The general Indian term for goldwork embroidery is zari. The word zari is ultimately derived from the Persian word for gold, zar. The term zari can be used to describe various types of metal threads and ways that they are used as embroidered decoration.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a remarkable woman's jacket from Nepal, dating to the mid-nineteenth century. It seems inspired by contemporary European/British military uniforms. The velvet garment has large cuffs, epaulettes and the front panels are densely embroidered with seed pearls, sequins and gold thread.

The Jains in Indian Gujarat used to protect their sacred texts with satin or velvet covers that were generally embroidered with metal and silk threads. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an example that dates from the late nineteenth century. It is made of red satin with metal thread embroidery and sequins. It measures 16 x 29.2 cm.

The Kala Raksha Trust is a social development organisation based in Sumrasar Sheikh, in the Kutch region of Gujarat (western India). The Trust’s main aim is to preserve traditional arts, in particular embroidery, by helping artisans to become economically self-sustaining.

The Textile Museum of Canada holds a kantha embroidery from West Bengal in India. It was made by Srimirthi (Mrs.) Lokhibala Dashi sometime between 1920 and 1960. It measures 184 x 128 cm and is made of cotton. These kanthas were made of pieces of old clothing, sewn together, and embroidered with running and darning stitches, often with a lotus motif in the centre.

Kantha (Kānthā) work is a form of free style embroidery from India and Bangladesh. It is made from layers of cloth (usually cotton or silk), which are sewn together forming a quilt, using a running stitch with a relatively coarse thread. The patterns of kantha work tend to be based on simple geometric grids or more complicated, naturalistic designs including birds, foliage, animals and scenes of everyday activities.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a nineteenth century Kashmir coat made of black wool with gold thread embroidery. The embroidery includes the paisley motif.

Kashmir embroidery is one of the most famous styles of decorated needlework from the Indian subcontinent.It originates from the Jammu and Kashmir region of the northwestern part of South Asia It is also known as Kashida embroidery. Traditionally, the cloth for this type of work was woven and then decorated by embroiderers (rafugar), often from the same (extended) family.

An embroidered woollen Kashmir shawl dating to the (mid-) nineteenth century and probably produced in Kashmir is housed in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It measures 137 x 126 cm. The embroidery is worked with a stem stitch.

Khaarek is a form of satin stitch used for counted thread work in western India (Kutch). Khaarek embroidery is carried out by Sodha, Rajput and Meghwal communities. Geometric patterns are first outlined on a fabric and then filled in with bands of satin stitches (kharek) that are worked along the warp and weft from the front.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a woman's shirt from Lahore, in what is now Pakistan. It is dated to the mid-nineteenth century. The shirt, locally called a kurta, is made of cotton with silk and metal thread embroidery, and sequins. It is 71 cm long and 156 cm across the sleeves.

The Jats are a conglomeration of peoples who live in parts of Pakistan and northwestern India (Haryana, Gujarat, Kutch and Rajasthan). Traditionally they make their living by herding or farming. The diversity of the Jats means that they may be Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs. The Kutch Jats are known for their embroidery work, which comes in a diversity of forms.

The people of Ladakh in the mountains of northern India tend to wear a variety of plain coloured garments that are not embroidered. Instead decoration is emphasised, especially among the married women, by the use of jewellery of various types. The main exception with respect to embroidery is the hat worn by married women.

'Lady from Amritsar' is a late nineteenth century oil painting depicting a lady wearing very elaborate, embroidered garments. The painting is said to have been worked in 1880 by the English artist, Horace van Ruith (1839-1923), although there are some questions about this attribution.

Lais is a nineteenth and early twentieth century Indian (Hindu) term for a form of woven braid

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a lap cloth (localled called pangkheb) from Bhutan. It is made of unbleached cotton with woven and embroidered geometrical patterns in terracotta and indigo-coloured cotton threads. It is almost 2.5 m long. It dates to about 1900.

The British Museum in London houses a large rectangular shawl from Gujarat, western India. It is made of black silk and is embroidered with chain stitch, showing alternate bands of white-petalled and crimson-petalled flowers. In the centre is a densely embroidered star-shaped motif with shisha work. The shawl is edged with bands of crimson satin. The shawl measures 195 x 170 cm.

Page 4 of 7