Also known as: (popularly) kashmiri, aari work

zalakdozi
embroidery sample: zalakdozi

About
‘Zalakdozi’, essentially means chain stitch. This type of embroidery includes only chain stitch. Zalakdozi is known to be an exclusive embroidery from the state of Kashmir in Inida, and thus populary known as ‘kashmiri’. It is to be noted that Kashmir has other types of embroideries using other sticthes like the satin stitch too. Zalakdozi typically uses wool, cotton or silk thread. It is done not using a needle, but a hook known as ‘ari’. Using a hook to do this embroidery saves on time and energy as the hook is used to pull a series of  loops of the chain stitch, as against the single loops that has to be done using a needle. Yet, we can go through the pain of using needle to replicate this work using needle, all for the worth of its richness and beauty.  One interesting thing to know is that all kashmiri embroidery artisans are men.
The main feature of Zalakdozi is the use of chain stitch in concentric rings to fill a pattern. How to color this filling is left upto the artisan.

History
There has been many claims on how this type of hookware embroidery originated. There is a belief that it originated along with crochet ( a french craft), where hooks called the ‘tambour’ hooks were used to create chain stitch. Some believe that the inspiration is drawn from a shoemaker’s hook. Yet, another belief is that this art is as old as 700 years. In the 13th century, the Italian traveller, Marco Polo describes of patterns similar to that of kashmiri used centuries earlier. But, material facts put it that it originated in the 16th century. One fact known is that in the 16th century, it was deeply encouraged by the mughal emperors and this helped many artisans to thrive. One study states that this type of embroidery was introduced in Kashmir from Damascus.

Zalakdozi today
This embroidery carries an international market and is known as one of the finest and expensive works of art. Due to market demands, this stitch can be found on almost all kinds of furnishing fabrics and many kinds of dresses.Market demand has also prompted the use of machines to produce this embroidery to be sold at more affordable price. However, the exquisiteness and richness of a hand produced kashmiri embroidery can never be replaced by the perfectness and flawlessness of  machines. Many artisans of Kashmir earn their livelihood using zalakdozi.

Patterns used
Traditionally floral and leaf patterns were used. The designs varied from persian to the western to the most popular mango seed design of India. But, market demands have created a way for more contemporary patterns that involve animals too.

Stitches used
Zalakdozi uses only chain stitch. The use of lazy daisy and zig zag chain stitch happen occasionally.

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