Ari embroidery of Tamil Nadu is done by both men and women, mainly in the Sri Perumbpadur area of Tamil Nadu. The craft was initially practised by the upper class trading community and later spread to members of other communities. The embroidery is done for the Real Madras Handkerchief as well as for saris and other clothing.
The craft requires a frame of wooden beams with holes, fabric, a long needle, threads, tikris and beads. The work is home-based. The frames are of various sizes, usually about 1.5 feet high. The cloth is secured on the frame with a strong thin rope. The design is sketched on it with a stencil. Chalk is mixed with petrol to transfer the design onto the cloth. One hand is placed under the cloth holding the thread to the needle while the other hand moves the needle on top of the cloth with ease. Tikris and beads are attached to the cloth with the needle. This work done on the Real Madras Handkerchief is chiefly for export; this is a cloth measuring 36″ by 36″ and has a traditional market in Africa where Nigerian women wear them on ceremonial occasions.
Another embroidery style is the jaali or net embroidery which resembles drawn threadwork and is done by pulling the warp and weft threads and fixing them with minute buttonhole stitches. The designs are in geometrical and floral shapes.