The Zari Industry of Surat has always be one of the booming textile industries in Gujarat, its products having been in vogue as early as the 16th century. This industry began flourishing during the Mughal era in India. Traditionally, Zari or Jari is a brocade of uniform gilded or silver thread that is usually used in authentic Indian garments, especially in sarees and ghagras that are suited for special and auspicious occasions. Zari is embroidered into silk fabrics in order to create beautiful and intricate patterns. Zari adds luster and grandeur to the silk fabric, thus transforming the garments woven from it, very resplendent.

The Surat zari industry has preserved the prestige of India's traditional textile industry. From a mind boggling variety of trimmings, fringes and motifs, zari threads have been woven by hand and by industrial equipment to make beautiful designs in fabric. Zari work is done even on heavy coats, sherwanis, blouses,turbans, cushions, bedspreads, curtains,  necklace, bags, purses, belts, and shoes.


Craftsmen use zari, preferably for embroidery. Intricate patterns involve the usage of fine and firm wires or "gijai". For embroidering floral designs on silk, "sitara", a small star-shaped metal is used and hence accounting for the name salma-sitara. Braids of silver and gold zari threads known as "kalabattu" are used in saree borders. Thinner braids are embroidered in purses, necklaces, clutches, and strings. Spirally twisted gold zari threads are known as "Tikora”. Zari threads have varying degrees of lustre from dull (kora) to shiny (chikna).  Traditional equipment used for zari embroidery is called karchob .

Different Types of Zari Work Include the following

  • Kamdani: It is minimalistic and is used on lighter material like scarves, veils, and caps.

  • Mina: It resembles enamel work and makes use of gold threads.

  • Kataoki Bel: It is usually prominent in borders with patterns made of stiff canvas, studded with sequins. 

  • Makaish: This work makes use of a sliver wire that behaves as the needle for stitching patterns into the fabric.

  • Marori: Gold thread is stitched on to the fabric surface.

  • Gota: Woven gold threads are further designed into shapes for creating different textures. Borders are cut into shapes of birds, animals, and human figures, sewn to the material and further embroidered with zari.

  • Kinari: Zari is woven into edges to create tassels.

Production Process

Zari is produced by winding a flattened metallic strip made from pure gold, silver or a metallic polyester film around a yarn made of silk, art silk, cotton, nylon, polyester etc. Zari has been categorised into 3 types namely real zari, imitation zari and metallic zari

The Production Process of Zari Manufacture Involves the following Steps:

  • Obtaining  metal alloys

  • Preparing base yarn

  • Melting silver and gold metals

  • Drawing them into thin wires

  • Zari thread production

  • Electroplating and reeling

In the case of Real Zari, a fine silver thread is drawn from silver alloys, which is flattened by passing it under through equal pressure rotating rollers. The flattened silver threads are wound on the base yarn that is usually made of silk. These spools with silk and silver threads are further flattened for electroplating. The threads are then plated with gold by the process of electroplating. The lustre of the gilded threads is further increased by passing them through a brightener. This improves aesthetics. These threads are then wound on a reel.

In the case of Imitation Zari, copper wires drawn from copper alloys undergo a similar process, except in this case, they are electroplated with silver and then wound around the base yarn, and reeled. This type of zari is less expensive than pure zari, as silver electroplated copper is more economical.

Metallic Zari is a modernized version of zari and it replaces traditional metals like gold, silver and copper. It is resistant, durable and light in weight. It is non-tarnishing and maintains its lustre for a considerable period of time.

Traditional Trivia

Zari has a historical as well as religious significance to its credit. During the Vedic ages, zari was associated with the grand attired of gods, kings and literary figures. The Ramayan, Mahabharat and RigVeda have made references to Zari craft.

Zari signified opulence and wealth during the Mughal era. The Surat port being a link to the Haj pilgrims and Indians was a major factor for introducing this craft in India. Zari handicrafts produced in Persia were imported to India and likewise many immigrant craftsmen set up their trade in the country as well.

The Zari trade has survived all the centuries so brilliant craftsmanship traditional Zari traders, who love their craft and have smoothly adapted to the changing times, by switching from old fashioned techniques to new ones.

Gujarat is the world's largest producer of Zari, and various Zari products such thread, laces, borders, fringes, edges, etc.

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