A late 19th century century N Indian 'Zardozi' work metal-thread embroidery panel

A late 19th century century N Indian 'Zardozi' work metal-thread embroidery panel



An elaborate late 19th century metal-thread embroidered panel associated with work produced in Northern India, possibly Delhi, centred by two stylised exotic pheasants either side of an openwork basket of flowers, surrounded by floral motifs against a pale pink silk ground within a strapwork cartouche, similarly the outer border of foliate decoration, flowers and birds against an off-white silk ground, all worked in a combination of gaufrure, couching and purl work.

Embroidered designs of this complexity, worked with a mix of styles of three-dimensional bullion, were undertaken by professional workshops. The highly-skilled embroiderers had served long apprenticeships and carefully guarded their techniques. Known as 'Zardozi' work, a Persian term literally meaning 'gold embroidery', it became popular with the European market having become fashionable in Indian textiles and dress. Silver and gold metal 'thread' embroidery consisted of the finest wire or wrapped silk, known as 'sewing gold' made into springy 'purl', threads and wire forming a tube or 'couching', threads woven over a padding material, to create an elaborate three-dimensional effect.

My thanks to Avalon Fotheringham, Curator of The Asian Department of The Victoria & Albert Museum, for help in cataloging this piece.


Height 56.5 cm / 22 "
Width 103 cm / 40 34"
Depth 7 cm / 3"

circa 1875




The collection of Jane Sumner