The delicate, hand stitched craft of bead embroidery is a prominent part of the Nawabi culture of Bhopal. The small Batuas or purses are linked to the identity of the city and reflects the traditions and culture of Bhopal. The craft links itself to the early tribal culture, which made beautiful ornaments from wood, shells, metal, ivory and bones. This traditional skill later caught the eye of the Begums (Muslim women rulers) of Bhopal, who supported the craft and gave it a Persian touch. They used it for carrying cloves, betel nuts, and other mouth fresheners. It was also used to keep currency.
Today, traces of the craft can also be found in fashion accessories, dress materials, wall hangings, lamp shades, bags and other decorative items. Different materials used in bead embroidery include salmaa(gold wires), sitara (metal stars), wooden beads, pearl beads, glass beads, and plastic colour. Nazia, who has been a creator of these batuas, explains that only the women of the family do the embroidery, and that there are many family clusters who have been involved with this craft for generations.
Presenting unmistakable mages in gold and silver, and colourful hues, this picturesque embroidery is a beautiful artefact of the co-mingling of cultures, which make it even more magical, and seem to lure one into a panorama of art spread across fabrics.