Professional embroiderers are few and far between in America today, but in India - which produces much of the world's commercial fine needlework - embroidery is still an art practiced commercially by both men and women. This short video was produced by the Victoria & Albert Museum in connection with their recent exhibition, The Fabric of India.
Here's the V&A's description for the video:
The embroiderers at the Sankalan embroidery design and production house in Jaipur, Rajasthan, practice a variety of stitch techniques to embellish fabrics by hand. The V&A followed their work on a lehnga, a wedding skirt, from traced outline to finished product. Only by slowing the footage could the incredibly fast stitching of ari embroidery be captured, as professionals perform it so rapidly it is nearly impossible to see with the naked eye.
The extremely fine hook that is being used in the video to create the chained stitches reminded me of tambour work (see my earlier post here) a kind of embroidery that was popular in the 18th-19thc. Since professionally embroidered textiles were being imported from India to France and England at the same time, I'm guessing that the technique was imported as well, and transformed with a larger hook and a French name into an elite lady's pastime. Do any of you needlework historians out there know for certain?
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.