Embroidery is an art of decorating fabrics with fine thread works. Apart from threads and needles, the craft also fixes materials like pearls, beads, quills, and sequins, etc. Historically, the embroidery threads were made out of silk, gold, or silver, sewing elaborate hand-stitched clothing, boots, and hats. The origin of embroidery is recorded to the start of 30,000 BC, where the Orient and Middle Eastern parts of the world were involved in heavily mend thread works. Later in the 1100s, the religious artifacts adopted this style for incorporating small seed pearls onto vellum, followed by beadwork clothing in the coming decades. Thus, it was considered a symbol to evaluate one’s economic status with the range of embroidery work done on their clothing and religious objects. This was very prevalent in the cultures of ancient Persia, India, China, Japan, Byzantium, and medieval Europe.
Handicrafts form the basis of the cultural setup of any country. The state of West Bengal from India has always been famous for its handlooms and handicrafts. These handicrafts of the region make use of simple raw materials like wood, clay, thread, sponge wood, bamboo, conch-shell, cane, etc. However, ornaments made from copper, brass, and silver have also gained a place in the category as it is rooted in their traditional culture. Here the common motifs are mostly inspired by nature and religious deities. Kolkata-based Zari Zardozi embroidery, chic Baluchari sarees, and Tasar textiles are famous worldwide for their style and elegance. These items enjoy a strong world market as it comes with distinguished features and is contiguous. Many generations from the interiors of the state have been practicing Zardozi embroidery for decades. Eventually, designers from across the country, recognizing its grandeur, started sourcing the art, thus reviving it. Though there was a significant fall in its popularity post-independence, in the last 50 years, it gave a comeback at various prestigious Fashion Weeks. Now the Zardozi fabrics are widely found in weddings, festivals, and other celebratory events. The word 'Zardozi', a form of metal embroidery, is derived from Persian terms, ‘Zar’ meaning gold and ‘Dosi’ meaning embroidery. Tracing back to its history, this embroidered clothing paved its way into India from Persia through trade. Here the art was more used to decorate walls of the royal tents, scabbards, carpets, wall hangings, and head plates for regal elephants. Now there are many regions in India like Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Delhi, Kashmir, Mumbai, Ajmer, and Varanasi that actively practice the art. Today Zardozi products available in the market range from various forms of garments, accessories like purses, belts, shoes, headbands, to even home furnishings. In Chakmadhu, the Howrah district of Kolkata is well known for its authentic Zardozi embroidered sarees and purses. Various manufacturing centers functioning at the place offer training programs and workshops for local people, providing an opportunity for them to master the art and make a living by selling it even on international platforms.