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Zari (or Jari) is an even thread traditionally made of fine gold or silver used in traditional Indian, Pakistani and Persian garments, especially as brocade in saris etc. This thread is woven into fabrics, primarily made of silk to create intricate patterns. Traditional textile weaving in Iran (Persia) have long tradition of Zari, especially in Zardozi embroidery. It is believed this tradition started during the Mughal era. Today, in most fabrics, zari is not made of real gold and silver, but has cotton or polyester yarn at its core, wrapped by golden/silver metallic yarn.
Zari is basically a brocade of tinsel thread meant for weaving and embroidery.It is manufactured by winding or wrapping (covering) a flattened metallic strip made from pure gold, silver or slitted metallised polyester film, on a core yarn, usually of pure silk, art silk, viscose, cotton, nylon, polyester, P.P., mono/multi filament, wire, etc. Nowadays, it can broadly be divided into 3 types. 'REAL ZARI' made of pure gold & silver, 'IMITATION ZARI' made of silver electroplated (thinly) copper wire, and metallic zari made of slitted polyester metallised film. In ancient times, when precious metals were cheaply and easily available, only REAL ZARI threads were produced. Due to industrial revolution and invention of electroplating process, IMITATION ZARI came into existence to cut the cost of precious metals. As COPPER is the most malleable and ductile metal after Gold and Silver, silver electroplated copper wire replaced pure silver. Various modern colours and chemicals are used to create/impart a golden hue instead of pure Gold. The precious metals & copper too became dearer due to huge demand in various modern industries. Thus, a cheap & durable alternative was invented with non-tarnishing properties. METTALIC ZARI came into vogue replacing traditional metals like Gold, Silver & Copper. This ZARI is light in weight & more durable than earlier editions. Also, it had the most sought after properties of non-tarnishing & knot-free / knot-less.
Surat in the state of Gujarat on the west coast of India is the world's largest producer of all types of ZARI & ZARI MADE-UPS namely Threads, Cantile, Laces, Ribbons, Borders, Trims, Fringes, Edges, cordonettes, Cords, etc. The art of ZARI making has been inherited from father to son since many centuries. It is recognised as one of the ancient Handicrafts by the Government of India. Women from different communities & artisans produce Zari & made-ups for weaving, embroidery, crocheting, braiding, etc.
- Banaras brocades, by Anand Krishna, Vijay Krishna, All India Handicrafts Board. Ed. Ajit Mookerjee. Crafts Museum, 1966.
- Linda Lynton (1995). The sari: styles, patterns, history, techniques. H.N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-4461-8.
- Jay Gluck, Sumi Hiramoto Gluck, Carl J. Penton (Bānk-i Millī-i Īrān), ed. (1977). "The Golden Yarns Of Zari— Brocade". A Survey of Persian handicraft: a pictorial introduction to the contemporary folk arts and art crafts of modern Iran. Survey of Persian Art. p. 212.