India has long been known for its gold thread, zari. Even in the Vedic age, zari is thought to have adorned the attire of gods, and has held therefore a distinguished place among Indian crafts. Historically, zari consisted of pure silver wires whose surface was fused with real gold leaves. This was known as kalabattu. Among the well-known products of the Indian zari industry besides gold and silver thread for weaving, zari kasab, are embroidery materials like sequins, spangles and purls of various kinds: chalak, champo, kinari, salma and badla.
The enduring story of zari has been a result of the traditional skill of Indian craftsmen who have for centuries practiced the craft regardless of its material returns. To keep pace with current demand, zari craftsmen have successfully made the transition from traditional techniques to modern ones, while continuing to emphasize their self-reliance. Even today, all equipment used in zari manufacture, from start to finish, is locally fabricated and conditioned. This self-sufficiency makes the zari industry a unique one.


Zari is usually of three types.
1. Real Zari
2. Imitation Zari
3. Plastic Zari

Currently, real zari is made from flat silver wire that is electroplated with gold. Zari made from these precious metals is used for ceremonial sarees, richly embroidered apparel, furnishings, etc. Imitation zari, on the other hand, is made from copper wire. A third variety, plastic zari, is made from a chemically-coloured metallic yarn. More than 20 colours of zari are now produced, and there are varieties such as zari on glass, zari on wood etc..

There is a sizeable domestic market for zari threads and other metallic items. The principal Indian markets for zari products are Chennai, Mysore, Bangalore, Salem, Madurai, Kanchipuram, and Kumbakonam in the south; Jaipur, Delhi, Amritsar and Varanasi in the north; Kolkata in the east; and Mumbai and Nagpur in the west. The handloom and powerloom textile units are the principal users of the material. South India consumes the most zari in the form of gold and silver thread. Gold thread and embroidery materials like Badla, Zik, Tiki, Chalak, Salmo, lace, trimmings, textiles like Kinkhab and orhnis, and zari-embroidered purses and plaques, etc. are among the zari goods exported from Surat. The exported products are mainly used for Christmas decorations and as gift items such as Christmas trees, stars, various kinds of animals with zari-embroidered velvet cloth, and souvenirs of various kinds. The US, Canada and Europe are the chief markets for these products. Zari-embroidered cushion covers, table mats, sofa spreads, bedspreads, chair covers, wall hangings and bags are also exported to many countries in the Middle East. Most of the embroidery work is done in Jhansi, Jaipur, Bareilly, Farrukhabad and Kutch.




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