Deepa Gurnani’s products are embellished with beautiful Zardozi patterns, a form of embroidery that was brought to India from Persia by the Mughal conquerors. Its literal translation, zar meaning gold and dozi meaning embroidery, refers to the process of using metallic bound thread to stitch embellishments onto diverse types of fabric.
Zardozi is a particularly unique form of stitching. The design is first drawn on a tracing paper and holes are pierced all along the lines using a needle. A mixture of kerosene and chalk is rubbed with the linen on the tracing paper, seeping through the holes and leaving an impression of the design.The intricate designs are stitched manually and once complete, the thread is flattened out with a light wooden hammer.
Even though the origin of Zardozi is relatively unknown, the use of the gold and silver thread dates back to ancient India. It was mentioned in Vedic literature, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana. It was under the royal patronage of Mughal emperor Akbar, a passionate enthusiast of the arts, that Zardozi work flourished within the kingdom and was extensively used to adorn the walls of courts, embellish the clothes of the royals, and form the rich trappings of elephants and horses. Over the years, the art form developed to include silk and other shining threads and precious gems have been replaced by metal stars, round sequins, and glass and plastic beads.
Many of Deepa Gurnani’s pieces are carefully made using Aari embroidery, a delicate art practiced mostly in the Kashmir and Gujarat states of India. It can be traced back to the 12th century when the Mughals ruled the country. The floral motifs and traditional designs captivated the Mughals, bringing Aari work into the limelight.
While engaging in the elaborate art, the artisan first spreads out the material on a frame and then uses a silk thread to create chain like stitches using a long needle ending with a hook. Artists are known for creating fine embroidered patters along with embellishing outfits and accessories with sequins and stone. The harmonious marriage between the Zardozi and Aari methods produce Deepa Gurnani’s unique style, echoing India’s rich cultural past.