The Zardozi artisans of Banaras and Bareilly specialize in embroidering insignia and ceremonial dresses. Zardozi is a hefty, and baroque embroidery technique in which gold threads or curls, beads, and sequins are sewed onto the textile with a needle, and thread. Zardozi embroidery thrived during the Mughal era in the subcontinent and was believed to have been introduced to India from Persia. References to the art are found in works like Ain-i-Akbari and Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri. In Mughal India, Zardozibejewelled court regalia, furnishing, sheaths, and even accessories of elephants, and horses.
Our craftsman, says that the work on badges is a very challenging craft as the insignia detailed must be precisely replicated. “It is practised by the Muslim Zardozi community. The Zardozi craftspeople of Banaras have been involved in creating insignias and brass for innumerable military organizations in India, and abroad for many generations. We also make uniform accessories for the armed services of nations like the USA, Malaysia, Tanzania, and Canada. Banaras is still considered to be the centre of Zardozi of the highest quality. The artisans also create robes for pastors of cathedrals in several states,” reveals Kureshi, adding that only the male members of the family practise the craft.