Embroidery is an age old art form dating back to at least 3000 BC and possibly much longer. Embroidery and most other fiber and needlework arts are believed to originate in Asia and the Middle East. Embroidery art has a rich history that is a varied as the many cultures it comes from. Some of the earliest references to embroidery are mentioned in recorded history carved in stone wall, art and mosaics from Indian vedas and epic stories and seen in Chinese Buddhist stupas and sculptures, Kushana sculptures, and Ajanta frescos.
Centuries ago embroidery was applied to clothing and other fabrics from extremely early times. Quite often ornate embroidery was a sign of wealth and prestige. Chinese, Egyptian, European and Indian cultures all have ancient histories of embroidery. Indian embroidery differed from others due to the usage of natural colors for dying. The variety is apparent in Indian embroidery with so much of diversity in the culture. Be it the 'bagh' or 'phulkari' stitch of Punjab, the darn stitch of Kashmir or the 'chikan' work of Uttar Pradesh, the 'kasauti' stitch of Karnataka or stitches of Kutch, Bakhia and Tepchimuri. They are all unique in their own way. Nature and religion are the main source of inspiration for Indian embroidery.
One of the oldest embroidered piece in existence is the world famous Bayeux Tapestry, dating from approximately 1066. Although the piece is called a tapestry, it is actually as embroidered composition reaching an astounding 231 feet long. Recalling the Battle of Hastings, the piece still hangs in the town of Bayeux in the province of Normandy in France. This beautiful embroidered piece is thought to have been created by over 100 noble women in the town and is speculated to take several years to complete.
Many embroidery designs, themes and motifs have endured for centuries. Since the times of pre historic civilization, embroidery patterns have included floral designs, animal motifs, geometric designs, patterns and religious symbols and designs. European, Indian, Chinese cultures are but a few of the cultures that developed their own embroidery styles, each with its own history of development.
Modern Embroidery Machines evolved from the sewing machine which was invented in 1790 invented and patented by the British inventor Thomas Saint. But it wasn't until a French tailor, Barthelemy Thimonnier (1793-1857), patented the first practical sewing machine who built a factory around dozens of these machines but an angry mob of tailors burned his factory down, arose out the industrial revolution in the late 1900's. The development of the sewing machine for factory use in the 1850s revolutionized the garment industries. Production moved from homes and small shops into large, machine-controlled environments dominated by impersonal managements. Today with the aid of computers modern numerically controlled embroidery machines can turn out hundreds of products with great complexity and speed.