Hunnar Art & Craft
An organization actively working towards the upliftment of the diminishing Zardosi handwork by teaching young, adult, women, men and children its essence through workshops and training as well as innovative craft application development. Hunnar is an initiative that binds the traditional art and craft with contemporary methods. It was found by Ansari Shahid Hussain in 2003. Ansari himself is a great zardosi artist and mentor who believed in preserving this rare design aesthetic through popularizing it. A motto to take zardosi at an international level and register it into the intangible world heritage skill is what Hunnar envisions as its goal. They have successfully translated the age old craft into a modern art product by making World Monuments portraits from zardosi. The main idea behind this whole institute was to elucidate that zardosi as an art can be personalized, experimented and altered as per contemporary requirements. The non-profit part of Hunnar where today more than 60 women members are learning new techniques to work on zardosi is named as Ramsha Mahila Vividhlakshi Audhyogik Sarkari Mandali.
Ansari Shahid Hussain hails from Radhanpur, Patan, which is the fabric hub of Gujarat and famous for its Zardosi embroidery work. Because of his proactive grasping power and dedicated zeal, Ansari was able to adapt himself as a successful Zardosi Handwork Artisan at a pretty young age. After few years Ansari had his call for city lights and moved to Ahmedabad to explore a wider scope of design. A metric pass artisan in the metro city, his design career initiated while working at Aminsahb’s workshop. This job helped Ansari in mastering his fabric skills and further meeting with Dipaliben Patva inspired him to enhance his design perspective which led him to experiment the traditional methods with contemporary patterns. As an upcoming artist and an entrepreneur, Ansari was having his own fabric factory and those days his stardom was at its peak, while on the other hand, destiny planned a little different story for him. In 2003 the computerization method of designing zardosi came to the market and was adapted by people like a wildfire. Making the work mechanical, easier, faster and cheaper than the handwork, Computers took over the handwork artisans’ work and most of them became unemployed. Ansari was caught in the fire and he lost his business too, but his 2 years unemployment took him to an India tour, which helped him in channelizing his profound passion towards art and envision a discrete practice of making famous historical and heritage monuments out of zardosi fabric work. These monuments are rigorously studied and its line and patterns are traced precisely. Today Ansari has a collection of art works of UNESCO monuments, through which he generates awareness for zardosi work.
Zardozi is an exquisite intricate courtly craft which survived from the time of the Rig-Veda. This special three- dimensional mesmerizing art of growing flowers and leaves from the needle is one of its kinds. It is hand stitched embroidery predominately by Muslim men. It is done with a needle that is used to run up and down through the cloth, much like a sewing machine, while the cloth is pulled tightly over a wooden frame” karchob”. After days of painstaking labor, the result is an exquisite gold-veined work of art. Today Zardozi is not only confined to costumes but it has spread to a vast range of products such as dresses, purses, belts, stoles, photo frame etc. With the help of modern machines and material blends, Zardozi is available far more commercially than ever before. Many designers also are using Zardozi in their collection. Weddings, festivals, and Bollywood films have also been crucial in bringing back Zardozi fabrics that still retain its old feel with newer application.
There are many crafts followed in India but RMVLASML concentrates on promoting Aari & Zardozi. Aari & Zardozi embroidery is beautiful metal embroidery, which once used to embellish the attire of the Kings and the royals in India. It was also used to adorn walls of the royal tents, scabbards, wall hangings and the paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses.
Zardozi embroidery work involves making elaborate designs, using gold and silver threads. Further adding to the magnificence of the work are the studded pearls and precious stones.
Zardosi embroidery has been in existence in India from the time of the Rig Veda. There are numerous instances mentioning the use of zari embroidery as ornamentation on the attire of gods.
Initially, the embroidery was done with pure silver wires and real gold leaves. However, today, craftsmen make use of a combination of copper wire, with a golden or silver polish, and a silk thread. This is because there is hardly any availability of gold/silver on such a large scale as before.
History of Zardozi Embroidery in India
The word 'Zardozi' is made up of two Persian terms, Zar meaning gold and Dozi meaning embroidery. A Persian embroidery form, Zardosi attained its summit in the 17th century, under the patronage of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Under the rule of Aurangzeb, the royal patronage stopped and this led to the decline of the craft. Since the cost was high and raw materials quite rare, craftsmen could not carry on with the embroidery on their own.
Many craftsmen left Delhi and went to the courts of Rajasthan and Punjab in search of work. With the 18th and 19th century bringing industrialization, the craft suffered another setback. It was only after receiving independence in the year 1947 that the Indian government undertook steps to promote Zari embroidery
Method of Zardozi Embroidery
The process of doing Zardozi embroidery starts with the craftsmen sitting cross-legged around the Addaa, the wooden framework, with their tools. The tools include curved hooks, needles, salmaa pieces (gold wires), sitaaras (metal stars), round-sequins, glass & plastic beads, dabkaa (thread) and kasab (thread). The second step in the process is to trace out the design on the cloth, if possible fabrics like silk, satin, velvet, etc. The fabric is then stretched over the wooden frame and the embroidery work begins. Needle is used to pull out each zardozi element and then, it is integrated into the basic design by pushing the needle into the fabric