It is said that, “clothes make a man” whether it is formal or traditional men and women look their presentable best whether a lady is in her traditional ‘saree, lehenga or suit’ and men in formals or our very dear ‘dhoti kurta’ with ‘saafa’ or turban. Socializing times like an Awadhi literary fest i.e. a mushaira or kavi sammelan will give us a glimpse of men in ‘pathanis’ or ‘shervani’ looking their elegant and royal best. The wedding season in Uttar Pradesh is a colorfully rich extravaganza wherein celebrations are more than elaborate with lot of hustle and bustle and merry making at every step. Right from the Roka to the engagement to the ladies sangeet leading to the mehendi night – it all spells a splash of colors shimmer, glitter in decoration, dresses and garments.
Some of the prominent ways of intricately beautifying the different colored garbs in Uttar Pradesh are: zari, zardozi, chikankari, kalambuttu, mina work, kamdani, makaish, gota work and kinari work. The producers often belong to a traditional community, producing the long-established products for generations. Indeed, many artisans are centuries old artisans.
Zari– Embroidery done with metallic threads is called kalabattu and forms the zari. The main zari production centres are in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Here the metal ingots are melted into metal bars called pasa from which lengths are got by beating it after treatment. It has uniform evenness, flexibility, softness, and ductility. Kasab can stand for real silver/gold, as well as for plated silver/gold or for an imitation in which a copper base is given a coat of silver or golden color to make the product less expensive.
Zardozi– Heavy and more elaborate embroidery work which uses varieties of gold threads, spangles, beads, seed pearls, wire, and gota. It is used to embellish wedding outfits, heavy coats, cushions, curtains, canopies, animal trappings, bags, purses, belts, and shoes. The material on which this kind of embroidery is done is usually heavy silk, velvet and satin. The kind of stitches found are salma-sitara, gijai, badla, katori, and seed pearls, among others. Its main centres are in Banaras and Agra.
Mina work- Owing to its resemblance with enamel work. The embroidery is done in gold which comprises a pattern of birds and animals on a floral background in light blue, green, yellow and red.
Chikankari- The craft of Chikan work, often referred to as Lucknow Chikan, is over 400 years old with a firm presence in the Indian and global fashion arena. The technique of its creation is called Chikankari and its unique sensibility flaunts grace and elegance as subtly as the wearer pleases. While the word Chikan quite literally means embroidery, the art form incorporates approximately 36 different stitching techniques that in modern times are often combined with embellishments of pearls, mirror and Mukaish.
Gota work- The woven gold border is cut into various shapes to create a variety of textures in the patterns. The border of the material or sari is cut into shapes of birds, animals, and human figures, attached to the cloth, and covered with wires of silver and gold; it is surrounded by colored silks. The work resembles enameling.
Kinari work- A small variation is kinari work where the embellishments are done only at the edges in the form of tassels. This is done mainly by men and women of the Muslim community.
Kamdani work- This is a lighter needlework which is done on lighter material like scarves, veils, and caps. Ordinary thread is used and the wire is pressed down with the stitching producing a satin-stitch effect. The effect produced is glittering and is called hazaro butti.
Raw materials used–
Basic Material: Silk, zari, cotton, polyester, jacquard loom; dori (thread) mercerized yarn(dhaga)
Decorative Material: Peacock feathers.
Colouring Material: Bukani (colour powder).
Thus, it cannot be denied that U.P is a land of hues and colors in plenty. God in all his glory and bounty has blessed this land with humble people, deep rooted culture, with a billion opportunities to move out into the world and succeed while taking the land to greater pinnacles of glory wherein one can look back in pride and boast.