The Zardozi & Built Heritage exhibition at Salar Jung was an exotic look at beloved structures.
It's the ethereal loveliness of the Taj Mahal captured by the perforation of the needle. Baby stitches in gold and silver outline the gentle curves of the main dome with the minarets set behind it. A solitary boat bobs on the shimmering blue of the Yamuna, the edges shadowed in black to depict moonlight. It's a far cry from today's overly-commercialised depictions of the world's favourite monument to love.
The Zardozi & Built Heritage exhibition at Salar Jung Museum showcased the finest zardozi depictions of various Indian monuments. An ancient art that peaked during the Mughal period, zardozi embroidery used pure gold and silver wires drawn into fine threads to stitch exquisite patterns that were used as wall-hangings, adornments and embellishments.
The exhibition at the museum had paintings or etchings of the buildings in question with their zardozi replicas underneath in glass cases, allowing for an interesting study. Humayun's garden tomb in New Delhi was particularly lovely, using silken threads and geometrical patterns to depict the pool of water, the arches and the minarets, enclosed in rich yellow foliage.
Another zardozi print of the Red Fort's Lahore Gate was stitched on a rich red background, with pink edgings for the pathway and subtler shades for the sandstone. What excited Hyderabadis was the zardozi embroidery of the Charminar on a background of dusty rose. However, Hyderabad's best-known landmark is shown as a single-storey structure, a sign that the zardozi was not crafted in local kharkhanas or workshops.
The exhibition also included a section devoted to zardozi work on different items, including a pair of juthis, waistcoats, and armbands, and a selection of period rugs and pillows.