Kamdani/Metalic Embroidery of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Embroidery, Endangered/ Red List

Kamdani/Metalic Embroidery of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Kamdani is a rare craft originating and localised in Awadh, which exemplified the delicacy of Lucknawi craftsmanship during the era of the nawabs. It is known for creating a beautiful Ganga-Jamuni effect, that is the use of both gold and silver wires together. While brocades achieve this effect through weaving with gold and silver zari threads, Kamdani achieves it through embroidery with gold and silver wires. This type of embroidery was commonly done on silk and cotton fabrics.

To create Kamdani embroidery, gold and silver flat wires called badla (flattened metallic wire)  are utilized to form small knots or dots called fardi. The process involves attaching the flattened badla wire to the thread of a needle. As the needle passed through the fabric, which was tightened around the finger, the successive folds of the wire on the cloth created the knot or buti. At least three folds were necessary to create a three-thread knot, known as teen sui ki fardi. By increasing the number of wire folds, the size of the knots could be increased. The tiny fardi butis were joined together to form elaborate motifs, showcasing the intricacy and artistry of Kamdani embroidery

The folds were then rubbed with a cowrie shell to embed them deeply in the cloth. The embroidery  created a shimmering effect reminiscent of a star-lit night. The main stitches employed in Kamdani embroidery are karanphool, the straight-line flower, mundaphool the flower with petals, and patta the leaf. Other motifs include a variety of  floral butis, peepal leaf, paan/betel leaf, amiya or kairi the mango, amongst others.. Thie fardi butis were embroidered predominantly on muslin chunnis – the shoulder mantles, and later net and chiffon. Now white chiffon fabric is embroidered, and once the embroidery is completed, it can be dyed in any color without losing the shine of the badla.




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