Use of Gold in Indian Textiles

Art history/ Historiography, Museums/ Galleries / Collections / Exhibitions

Use of Gold in Indian Textiles: The Attire of Grace

Pathak, Anamika

Variety of fibers like cotton, silk and wool has been used for creating the different type of textiles in India. To embellish these textiles the artisan has used glass beads, beetle wings, coins, cowries, pearls, precious stones, silver and gold metal threads. Among all these materials used for ornamentation of textiles nothing is at par with the thread made out of metal gold, which has been profusely used in Indian textiles through the ages. Costumes made with gold thread (also known as zari: thread) may have started with emperor's or nobility's attire but the dazzling, glittering shine of gold has attracted everybody and later on, it was used by the other section of the society. The gold decorated group of Indian textiles is very large and quite colourful, which are made by four different techniques. The major variety is zari woven textiles and brocade length for making costumes. The second group is of zari embroidered textiles and costume. Next is the pichhwai, which are painted with gold leaf and last group is the gold dust printing yardage used for making attire. This group of textiles has a long history and so as the process of its manufacturing, which is the focus of this paper. Historical Background The earliest brocaded and zari embroidered pieces persevered in the museum collections are dated to sixteenth century. The most popular ones are silk brocaded patka, end panel of saree, pichhwai (temple hanging) and manuscript cover. Prior to it, there are literary references of textiles and costumes...
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