Embroidery of India includes dozens of regional embroidery styles that vary by region. Designs in Indian embroidery are formed on the basis of the texture and the design of the fabric and the stitch. The dot and the alternate dot, the circle, the square, the triangle and permutations and combinations of these constitute the design.
The most ornate and tedious form of Indian embroidery is the Zardosi workmanship. This form uses metallic thread instead of the usual silk or rayon. The craftsman marks the fabric, usually silk or velvet, with the pattern, embroiders with metallic thread, and embellishes with stones or beads. Many rich women from the late 16th century had embroidered dresses.
Another form of embroidery from India is the Ari work, which is done by stretching the fabric on a frame and stitching with a long needle, which also holds sequins, beads, and other embellishments.
Kashmiri embroidery(also Kashida), is as colorful and as beautiful as Kashmir itself. Embroiderers often draw inspiration from nature. Birds, blossoms and flowers, creepers, chinar leaves, ghobi, mangoes, lotus, and trees are the most common themes. The entire pattern is uses one or two embroidery stitches. Kashida is primarily done on canvas with crystal threads, but Kashida also employs pashmina and leather threads.
Kashida embroidery, which is famous for its sheer beauty, has attained the limits of fantasy and incredulity. Patterns and color schemes are magnificently employed in Kashida by the crafts-man with a mood aligned to the spirit of nature.
The base cloth, whether wool or cotton, is generally white or crème or a similar shade. Pastel colors are also often used. The craftsmen use shades that blend with the background. Thread colors are inspired by local flowers. Only one or two stitches are employed on one fabric.
Kashmiri embroidery is known for the skilled execution of a single stitch, which is often called the Kashmiri stitch and which may comprise the chain stitch, the satin stitch, the slanted darn stitch, the stem stitch, and the herringbone stich. Sometimes, the doori (knot) stitches are used but not more than one or two at a time.
Sozni embroidery (dorukha) is often done so skillfully that the motif appears on both sides of the shawl with each side having a different color. Consequently, there is no wrong side.
Another type of needle embroidery is popularly known as ‘papier mache’ embroidery because flowers and leaves are worked in the satin stitch and employ the bright colors that are found in papier mache. Each motif is then outlined in black. This design is employed either in broad panels on both sides of a shawl or on the entire surface of a stole.
A third type of embroidery is ari (hook) embroidery; motifs include the well-known flower design finely worked in concentric rings with the chain stitch. This is the same as the colored Zari embroidery.