Mehtab Ji | Zardozi Artisan Partner

ith over 45 years of experience, Mehtab ji has been our first few artisan partners to start our journey with The India Craft Project and this journey has been nothing short of special.  He has mastered the age-old craft of Zardozi, exquisite embroidery which has its roots in Persia. Through the influence of the Mughal culture, the craft thrived in India under them. He started at the age of fourteen and was trained by his father. Mehtab ji is the fifth generation of Zardozi artist in his family. Prior to him, the previous generations of his family date back to the Mughal era. When talking about his craft, he recalls that he was taught by his father and now he has passed it down to one of his son.

The purity of Zardosi (or what he calls ‘Nazafat’) is what Mehtab ji cherishes the most. The neatness, the sense of beauty it creates and the way it appeals to a person is what has kept him going on over decades. According to him, there is no other form of embroidery that can match the grace of Zardozi.

Though in the 21st century Zardozi is losing its old school charm, it still continues to fascinate tourists from foreign countries. In recent years, Mehtab ji says Zardozi is dying. The older generation is passing away or changing their source of income and the younger ones look for better opportunities. Out of many reasons, the prominent is the high cost of Zari and overall price of the labour. The COVID 19 pandemic has made things worse for both the craft and the artisans. For Mehtab ji and artisans under him, the income has been negligible. He tries to make his ends meet by dealing with Delhi exporters, exhibitions at places like Dilli Haat and through our website.
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