“Hello friends! I am Khalil from the city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh. I was born in 1958 to a family that has been associated with zardozi work for generations. My grandfather used to do zardozi work for the Mughals during the Mughal era in India. I belong to the third generation of our traditional zardozi business. We were the first to introduce zardozi work in Agra.
“I have learned the skill of doing zardozi work from my forefathers. I was born with the talent. It is in my blood. Although I am illiterate, I can see and replicate the entire design on fabric with thread and zardozi work. I can proudly say that once I created a 4-foot wall panel depicting the entire story of the Hindu epic–the Mahabharata--with polyester fabric, silk thread and zardozi work. It was highly appreciated for its unique beauty.
“Although we had a business for generations, our family got split due to personal disputes among the family members, and consequently we lost hold of our family business. We experienced a huge loss and had to close down our family business due to the separation. To add to our woes, we were fooled by local traders who purchased our products from us at a cheaper price and sold at higher rates.
“After my father’s demise, I was left all alone except for my two sons who still work with me. All our talent which was once so recognized was getting lost in today’s modern world. People now replaced their taste for zardozi work with some contemporary beaded designs. We were nearly doomed. We are still struggling to earn a stable livelihood.
“Along with zardozi work on fabrics for ladies’ garments, we also make bags, pouches and boxes with zardozi work. We work at our home, as per the requirements or orders of our customers. The most challenging part is to analyze the trends, market and tastes of people. We also take orders from local traders.
“I would definitely love to teach others the beauty and intricacies of zardozi work.
I hope to create more and more products with zardozi work so that I can preserve the lost legacy of zardozi and also give a comfortable life to my family. I am thankful to NOVICA for giving me an opportunity to showcase my talent and designs to the whole world.”