Mirror Work Galore

An Insight

Mirror work or also known as “Shisha” or “Ablah” has been in vogue for many centuries now and has not died down ever since. Pieces of mirrors of various sizes and shapes are etched on to the fabrics that makes the outfit look shiny and grand. However, in recent times, mirror work has been replaced by luminescent metal pieces which is in trend now in the present day. Mirror work is used on various materials such as Georgette, silk, cotton, chiffon, satin and much more.

Elegant Georgette yellow colored mirror worked saree

History and Origin

Mirror work was introduced in India during the 17th Century. Back in the day, they used Mica, Beetle, Tin, Silver instead of mirror pieces. Coins were also used in some regions of India. The making of circular shisha mirrors was done by women around South East Asia. This was done by cutting the mirrors with a special kind of scissors that avoids shrapnel from flying and it snips the pieces into circular shapes.

Mirror work paintings
Special scissors used to cut the mirror pieces

Additionally, decorative shisha work was originated by the Muslims during the Mughal Empire. Although the Mughals did not use this type of design on their clothing, clothes worn by traditional folk from the Indian Subcontinent and central Asia would have the shisha work etched onn their clothing. The word ‘Shisha‘ was derived from the Persian word meaning glass and is now commonly used in the Hindi and Urdu languages. Now that Shisha work is very common and mass produced, the process is done by machines.

Uses of Mirror work

Shisha work on Multicolored fabrics

The three main hubs for mirror work are Rajisthan, Haryana and Gujarat. The folks in these states were mainly bright colored attires with the Shisha work present. The attire of Jats of Banni have mirror work embellishments of various shapes and sizes. On the other hand, the Garari Jat community make use of tiny Shisha embroidery on the yokes of the dresses with multicolored thread work designs. Furthermore, The Kathis of Gujarat make use of the Mirror pieces to stitch the portion of the eyes of the animals which are printed on their clothing. Thus, each state has various Shisha work patterns and this makes this particular work an interesting yet attractive artwork that distinguishes the heritage of India in regards to the fashion industry.

Attire of a Banni Jut woman

Albeit, the uses of mirror work on clothing, it is also used for various items such as clutches, handbags, juttis (traditional Indian shoes) skirts, bed coverings, cushion covers and much more. These items are not only in vogue in India, but the artwork has created a global demand as well.

Mirror worked Jutti
Traditional Mirror work clutch

Religious beliefs

It is known that Mirror work has the effect of warding off evil eye. This belief was amongst the Hindus of Rajisthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. The use of Shisha worked Torana would be tied in the entrances of their respectful homes. Some Muslims and Jains would also practice this belief.

A Torana with Shisha work



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