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Beautiful Kashmiri Embroidery of India

Tassavur Shaikh
 


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Each state of India offers its own style of thread work and over the years Indian embroidery has become a rage all across the globe One can spot it being incorporated in all sorts of things, from garments to accessories, shawls to footwear, home furnishings to decorations, you name it and you will find it Kashmiri work is among the most popular embroidery works of India. The art form has marked its presence in domestic as well as international markets. Kashmiri embroidery is very famous for its sheer beauty, colours, texture and design. It is practised in the Kashmir valley in and around region of Srinagar.

This embroidery is widely used to enhance the beauty of Kashmiri shawls, silk sarees, dress materials, cushion covers, bed covers, purses, veils and articles of personal and daily use.

Also known as “Kashida of Kashmir” or Kashidakari, the motifs used in Kashmiri embroidery is mostly taken from nature. Embroiderers often draw inspiration from plants & animals; Birds, blossoms and flowers, creepers, chinar leaves, ghobi, mangoes, lotus, and trees are the most common themes.

The colours used are quite vibrant and range from white to green, purple, blue, yellow, black, crimson, saffron and scarlet. The folks who practice Kashidakari work are males with age anywhere between 7 to 60 years or more. The art form requires different level of expertise and exchanges hands as per requirement and is thus practised by sitting together in groups. It is a commercial activity and means of livelihood for many families. Kashidakari is the Persian name for a type of needlework. Kashmiri hand embroidery flourished when the Mughal ruler Zain-Ul-Abedin Shah invited artists from Iran to train the local people into a wide range of crafts.

Since then, this art prospered in Kashmir region of India for centuries and was passed down from one generation to another with each era bringing about subtle changes in motifs and stitch patterns. The base cloth which is used in Kashmiri embroidery is silk, cotton and wool. The threads made of silk, cotton and wool are used to produce surface designs of great intricacy and fineness.

But what makes Kashmiri embroidery truly unique is the “dorukha” or the double-sided work in which both sides are the same so that there is no right or wrong side. The article can be used from both sides. A further refinement of this is when the colours on both sides are different.

His is especially done on shawls which are the great pride of Kashmir. Kashmiri embroidery is known for the skilled execution of a single stitch, which is often called the Kashmiri stitch and which may comprise the chain stitch, the satin stitch, the slanted darn stitch, the stem stitch, and the herringbone stitch. Sometimes, the doori (knot) stitches are used but not more than one or two at a time.

Kashmiri embroidery is essentially a needlework done by hand. The practise has been carried since ages but as machines overtook the world, imitation of Kashmiri embroidery is being produced by machines. This poses threat to the workers and artists as the reproduced work can be a threat to their livelihood. The artists practising Kashidakari work needs a lot of support and encouragement so that the art does not lose substance. Looking at the kind of appreciation Kashidakari work is garnering, the artists once again can hope for a good life for themselves and also the art.

Kashmiri shawls are highly popular because of the embroidery work done on them. The beauty of products are enhanced by the work of skilled artists who adorn them with many types of stitches like Sozni or fine needlework which is generally done on the sides of the shawls while the “tilla and dori” work executed with gold or silver zari or silk threads are used to heavily embellish Phirans, sarees and shawls. Usually the value of product is determined by the amount and quality of the embroidery done. The traditional Kashmiri dress, “Phiran” is also usually decorated with rich Kashmiri embroidery work. The very famous Pashmina shawls are bedecked with finest embroidery from Kashmir. It may look simple but good quality Kashidakari embroidery takes a lot of precision, skill and experience. The detailing of the work takes time and requires a lot of patience. The resulting piece of art is no less than brilliant and immediately demands attention which shows how remarkable it is.

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