Rajasthan, the North-Western state of India, has a centuries-old repute for its traditional forms of art revolving around fashion. They gave the world the colorful, much-loved tie-dye (which became symbolic with the hippie movement of the roaring ‘free love’ sixties). Lesser known to the world is Rajasthan’s exquisitely prized form on Danka embroidery.
What is Danka Embroidery?
‘Danke ka kaam’ (or ‘Danke work’) is a very treasured form of metal embroidery that usually involves the use of precious metals such as gold and silver. This prized craft originates from the Bohra community of Udaipur, Rajasthan and is believed to be over 400 years old.
What makes it even more precious is the fact that only 2 certified Danka embroidery specialists exist today! A group of 20 young apprentices have been put to training lest this prized art-form is lost to history.
Danka embroidery is a very meticulous art. Each ‘danka’ is a small, square plate, no bigger than 1.5 cm. Each danka is washed and polished with fine sand, and hammered to shape.
The Craftsmanship Behind Danka Embroidery
The danka pieces are made of either pure gold or silver, and elaborately sewn on to fabrics like silk, chiffon and satin.
The craftsman sits on the floor and the fabric is stretched tightly on a wooden frame before it is embroidered. Danka pieces are spread on the fabric and pierced with a sharp needle, bringing out the thread through the fabric. About three to five strands of kasab (gold or silver wire) are woven over each danka as well as along its edges.
The most popular motifs used in danka work are inspired by nature – the sun, the moon as well as the every popular Indian paisley design.
As precious metal is involved, the value of a piece of Danka work is measured by weight.
Own a Danka Masterpiece!
Given Danka work involves the use of pure gold and silver, the cost of such work can be sky-high depending on the intricacies of the work, and was historically only reserved for the ladies of the royal palaces.
Danka embroidery carries with it a much sought-after link to history, class, luxury and a dying art. A Danka embroidered sari is one that is passed down generations within Rajasthani families, a much-treasured bridal trousseau piece that stands the test of time.
Want a Danka piece of your own? I have great news! Dubai’s very own Suchita Pandey, the designer behind Indo-Western label Suchita Stylista, has a brand new range of Danka saris added to her collection.
A Rajasthani herself, Suchita travelled back home to work closely with reputed craftsmen to create a range like never before. The beauty of this collection is that you can customize the design to your liking (the design, the colors, the use of precious metals including gold and silver), and the final cost is calculated by weight.
Catch Suchita at the Boulevard One exhibition at The Palace Downtown this Friday from 3 – 10 pm.
See you at Boulevard One!
All images in this post are courtesy Suchita Stylista.