Modern Indian badla. Modern Indian badla.

Badla is a form of metal thread embroidery associated with various Asian and Middle Eastern countries. In India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf region the technique is usually known as badla. In (southern) Iran it is called khus-duzi, while in Egypt it is called tulle-bi-telli (‘net with metal’), which includes the French word tulle (‘net’).

Badla is made with short, flattened metal strips that are wrapped and knotted around the structural threads of a fabric or net, thus creating a series of knots. How the knot is made varies from one region to another and depends upon the type of ground material used.

Badla is not worked under tension, as the ground material is normally either a soft, slightly open weave cloth or a simple, hexagonal or diamond-shaped net. In India a needle, fine thread and a metal strip are used to create the actual knot, while in Egypt the metal strip is inserted into the cloth using the fingers.

The badla technique is used to decorate clothing, such as dresses, head coverings, saris and shawls, as well as bags, curtains, and even the saddle cloths and trappings used for elephants and horses.

Specifically when and where the technique of badla originated is unknown. One of the earliest examples from the Middle East comes from excavations at the Egyptian site of Qasr Ibrim. It dates to the Ottoman period (pre-1812), possibly the seventeenth century. It is feasible that this technique originated in Turkey or possibly Turkic Central Asia and moved in various directions with the spread of the Ottoman Empire. It is worth noting that badla cloth can be found in Greece and the Balkans (as part of marriage outfits), which would suggest an Ottoman influence for using this type of decorative material.

Another possibility is that it was developed in India during the Moghul period (1526-1857), and then spread westwards. What is certain is that by the end of the nineteenth century the producers of badla could be found throughout the Indian subcontinent, Iran, the Balkans and Greece and other parts of the former Ottoman Empire, notably Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.

See blouse with badla decoration from Iran

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 22 June 2016).


Last modified on Monday, 03 October 2016 11:52
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