Aari embroidery dates as far back as 12th Century and during the Mughal era. Even today many of the patterns are inspired by mughal designs and this rich form of embroidery holds a special place in the artistry of textile design in India. Trade with England and China saw Aari work used to portray landscapes on large pieces of cloth and even clothes. However, today you will find Aari embroidery still influenced by the floral motifs used in the time of the Mughals.
Traditionally used for royals in the Mughal era this beautiful style of embroidery quickly became famous throughout india and much sought after. So when we say wearing our Aari embroidered jacket will make you feel like a Queen we are not kidding!
How is it created - by piercing the fabric and looping colourful threads through it with a needle. It can also be used to set beads into the embroidery.
Aari gets it name from the ‘Aar’, which is a small, hooked needle or awl used by the craftsmen
Although it traditionally started in villages in india with a predominantly Muslim population you can now find hubs all around India with their own modifications of Aari design. Although regions that are most famous for it include Kashmir and Kutch (Gujarat).
Learning the art of Aari
The skill of aari is mainly practiced by men although some NGP institutions are teaching it women in rural India in order to help them a develop a skill they can trade for economic stability. There is no official school to teach or develop this craft. In a way there are two things that make this craft amazing:
- That no formal schooling or body exists to teach the craft. The skill is passed down from generation to generation. Firstly young apprentices from senior craftsmen learn the basic loop stitch and then how to add embellishments and create new stitches and patterns.
- Not having a single school or body that teaches this craft variations of Aari have appeared all around India. The embroidery you see in Lucknow will be different to the one in Delhi or Chandigarh or Hyderabad. Which means you can never get enough of it!
Why the craftsmen and women need your support:
Textiles are the biggest employer in India after agriculture. For centuries India's textiles were heavily sought after around the globe, so much so that during the 18th century Britain put a ban on the the purchasing of it to preserve its own textile industry. Many of the artisans had to switch to agriculture to be able to support their families as a result and the art of textiles has been dwindling since. Now with the creation of modern technology and the drive for fast fashion we risk this being the last generations of artisans that can create beautiful weaves and embroidery.
By using fabrics that support these crafts we hope to revive the demand for these fabrics ad techniques and support local artisans in India and its rich history of textile design.