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Traditional Art In Modern Mirrored Work

By Expert Author: parineeti

Mirror Work, also known as shisha (mirror) embroidery, is a traditional art of affixing mirrors onto a fabric. It is known as Shisheh (Persian) or Abhala Bharat, Abhla Bharat or Aabhla Bharat embroidery. It involves the fixing of small sizes of mirrors or other reflecting metal in different shapes, on clothes or apparel, by stitching them onto the fabric that they are meant to decorate.

The Saree is a traditional outfit of Indian women across the length and breadth of India. It offers a large canvas for ostentatious display of any art work. Mirror work on fabrics lends them a sparkling appearance. It also enhances the look of plain sarees or those with an otherwise dull appearance. Imaginatively used they tend to heighten the appeal of designer fabrics.
Mirror work has been used effectively on a variety of fabrics like cotton, silk, chiffon, crepe, georgette and Supernet.

The basic purpose of mirror work was decoration of the large canvas on which it was put. A traditional belief of the evil eye being warded off, through the deflection of the evil gaze from the wearer’s body, was also partly responsible for its popularity.
Today’s concept is two-fold. One use of mirror work is, as a focal point of interest on a seemingly plain fabric, where it is meant to be an appeal lending accessory. The more innovative use is the subtle strategic positioning on the fabric as part of an intended design, where the mirror used in specific shapes could lend more life-like quality to the fabric. For example, it could be Bindi on the forehead of a woman’s face, very shapely sparkling eyes of a face or the centre of a flower in a floral pattern.

Shisha embroidery can be traced back to Iran in the 17th century, and brought to India during the Mughal Rule. One of the Mughal queens is said to be behind its propagation as an art. It originally started with the decorating of fabrics through reflective metal pieces such as Mica, Tin or Silver. Over a period of time, the use of glass pieces came into use. Thin bubbles of glass were blown for this purpose and then broken into small pieces.

Current times have the widely used machine made glass with silver coating on the back, cut into desired shapes and sizes, and readily available at shops for fabric ornamentation. Sometimes Mica or hand-blown glass, are used as substitutes.

Circular shape is most popular, though other shapes like square, triangular, or some other geometrical shape like polygon, hexagon, also figure in the designs.

Mirrors are fixed to the fabric by placing the mirrors in the desired places and putting cross stitches over them in a pattern. The patterned stitches not only hold the mirrors in place but additionally contribute to the beauty of the saree as designs. Stitches that are made to hold the mirrors in place are generally chain stitch and herringbone stitch.

Mirror embroidery is popular in South Asian countries particularly India, Pakistan, Aghanistan and China. Within India it was widely practised only in a few states like Gujarat and Rajastan. Today it is an art also seen in many states across the country like Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh etc.

There have been many saree creations that have made innovative use of mirror work and which have entered the market.
Picture the Pure handloom plain cotton saree decorated by circlular shaped mirrors all over the body and with a banjara mirror patch border. A Saree lending awesome appeal to the wearer it would be most apt for corporate executives and professors. It would also be suitable wear for parties and special occasions.
The Bridal Chanderi Pure Silk Sari embroidered in the patterns of zardozi, ari, chikan, gota work and highlighted with mirror work is exclusive wedding wear. It also finds favour to be worn for festivals, traditional occasions and grand functions.
Fancy Crepe Georgette Saree with block floral prints and mirror embroidery work, is a nice drape that would go well with evening parties, conferences and marriages.

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