The diversity of regions in India has led to a varied range of handicrafts which have become popular all over the world for their uniqueness. Mirror work with embroidery is a specialty craft from India.
Rajasthan is an Indian State with craftsmen of exemplary skill and talent. They are experts in working with various patterns, motifs and styles for textiles, with mirror work being one of the most popular of all embroidery crafts. Jaipur and Jodhpur are known for their finely embroidered quilts and garments, and mirrors are commonly used in their designs.
Mirror work seemingly originated in Persia in the thirteenth century and later spread to other places. Small pieces of mirrors are sewn on cloth using stitches like cross stitch, satin stitch and buttonhole stitch. Earlier, mica was used in place of mirrors to enhance the attractiveness of a garment. Now, with the help of modern machinery, mirror sheets are manufactured, which are then cut into different shapes and sizes. In Rajasthan, this craft has been popular since the time of the Rajput kings.
The craftsmen of Jaipur and Jodhpur have developed an enviable expertise in different patterns such as applique and tie-and-dye, which they embellish with mirrors, thereby turning ordinary cloth into an exquisite artform! Bikaner, Sikar and Jhunjhunu are other popular centers of this craft. Thus, it is not without reason that Rajasthan is often referred to as a ‘shopper’s delight’, with tourists often overwhelmed at the multitude of choices they get in embroidery styles.
Quilting or the stitching together of scraps of fabric which fit into a larger design is a unique offering of the state of Rajasthan. The making of quilts involves time, patience and skill. The lightweight, feather soft quilt from Jaipur will make you want no other. The warmth of these quilts will keep you cozy on the coldest winter night and the embroidery on the cover will add color to an otherwise gray season! Mirrors in various shapes – round, square and triangular – are used to enhance the pattern or design on these quilts. These mirrors are held onto the cloth with stitches. One quilt can hold up to a thousand mirrors! Such creative use of mirrors leaves a lasting impression and turns a simple quilt into a much coveted and exclusive possession.
Not only popular with the locals, garments with mirror work form a sizeable part of the exports made to European countries. It can truly be said that for the men and women of Rajasthan that their needle is a brush with which they create memorable art on cloth. Craftsmen and artists from different areas like Bikaner, Sikar and Jaisalmer contend for the top position in exquisite needle work and embroidery.
So gift yourself or your loved ones one of these traditional, exclusive items, handcrafted with meticulous care and skill!