As I navigated my way through the gully of Lucknow, I knew I was walking through a slice of Mughal history. The artisans, the chaste polite Urdu Zubaan, the Chikankari and the fine art of Naksha done on fabrics is a visual treat. In all art you find a portion of the artisans’ lives and their history. The art of Zardosi that travelled from Iran, Persia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Turkey, Central Asia into India, Bangladesh and Pakistan has a history of the Persian culture.
Zardosi has the broken nails and the grit of the hungry artisans who toil all day to put the gold or silver wire into the needle to create exquisite designs for us. The word is a Persian word broken into two – Zar which means gold and Dozi which means sewing.
I have a fascination for all things that are handmade and one such treasure is a Zardosi kurta that I cherish and keep over the years. It doesn’t fit me any longer. Life, illness and the changing years took a toll on my body measurements. But I often look into the packet in which I have retained the kurta. I touch the flowers that are done in copper and feel the smoothness of the metal wires meshed to create a design. The copper stays shiny without a hint of any rust over it.
I think my kurta can feel my love for the Zardosi flower and it holds on to my loving energy in staying pristine. I am hoping a yoga session would get me back into it soon.
I had got a matching choker during that trip of mine from Lucknow that is extremely unique. It has a big round pendant that nestles on my collarbone. It has a Zardosi flower embroidered on silk that is encased in glass and held together with a thick thread coil that is fastened with a silver button.
This Zardosi pendant is like a prayer of the soil. It has two little flowers that are entwined into each other to grow with support and finally rest against, next to one another.
These flowers remind me of relationships that sever without the support of one another. Every time I hold the smoothness of the silver pendant, I have a conversation with god above. These flowers reiterate that we may grow together but each of us need the space and the freedom to grow individually to savour the rain, sun and the moon. Just like the way one flower grows taller in my pendant than the other. It teaches me to accept that each of us evolve differently. It is the magic of the higher frequency of the universe. Some of us are attuned to hearing it quicker, louder and clearer than others. This growth may not be parallel with each other and the beauty lies in the dependence of each other’s wisdom. It’s called the collective consciousness of evolution. We are nothing without one another.
My Zardosi pendant nestles gently against my collarbone that catches the sheen of the universe above. It reminds me of Lady Curzon who wore an exquisite Zardosi gown during her coronation and made sensational front-page story for the Chicago Tribune in 1903. I feel equally special wearing this.
Zardosi is surviving today in dingy dwellings and I pray just like the weight of this embroidery, it shouldn’t weigh down the artisans who are bravely continuing in spite of the stressful survival of this art form.