The Taj Mahal and the art of zardosi

The Taj Mahal and the art of zardosi © Galyna Andrushko -

The themes and setting of Ranjit’s Rainbow Tigers provide a springboard into many different topics. In our story, Mrs Bannerjee is a skilled knitter and seamstress and has a market stall in Delhi. Here, we learn about another type of handicraft – the traditional Indian art of zardosi embroidery – then travel south from Mrs Bannerjee’s stall to Agra, to find out more about the magnificent temple the Taj Mahal. Our starting point for this journey of discovery is a beautiful piece of embroidered cloth….

The story behind the cloth

This embroidered cloth was bought in India, in 1942, by my grandfather, Jack Fitton. He was a radio operator with the Royal Air Force and was sent to India during the Second World War. The cloth is a greatly treasured family possession as Jack sadly died when he was only 39 years old. It is embroidered using silver and gold metallic threads. The technique used is called zardosi (or zardozi) embroidery. It dates back to ancient times, but is still very popular in Indian culture today. Originally, the embroidery was done with pure silver wires and real gold leaves. Today, however, craftsmen and women make use of copper and brass wires plated with gold and silver because of the high prices involved with using real silver and gold. The art of zardosi can be found on traditional Indian clothing, pillowcases, cushion covers and even handbags.

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More in this category: « Journey along the Silk Road

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