Zari means Gold & Dosi means Embroidery. This technique dates back to the moghul era. Where the emperor & queens attires were stitched with gold threads. Thousands of painstaking hours would go into making one embroidered attire. Work as intricate as weaving a bird’s feather with machine like precision. Talk about epitome of fashion in those days, wearing Zardosi meant you belonged to a particular class of people. (only few could afford)
Once the Moghul era ended, this gold thread stitching work was replaced by other cheaper materials like cotton & soon came polyester. Also with the advent of agriculture & industrialization the technique itself became a rarity. Most of the Zari work done on sarees & carpets these days is by machine. Though world over places like Iran, parts of India, Pakistan & Bangladesh are seeing a sizeable workforce working on Zari products like Carpets & Sarees. In India most of the Zari work is done in Midnapur, Jhansi, Bareilly & Kutch.
One carpet takes any where between a few months to even a lifetime (based on the size) similarly a saree weaving with authentic threads and hand knotted takes a few months. These days lehengas are being used especially during weddings with Zari work on them. The difference between a hand made & machine made can be observed based on the work done. A machine made will have very precise stitch especially if you were to flip the cloth on the back of the design. A hand made Zari will have a certain weft to it.
Zari is just not left to carpets & sarees. It is also done on cushion covers & curtains. These products are exported to the US, Europe & the middle east.