Kashmiri design, with its traditional name “Kashidakari”, is one of the most popular traditional embroideries in India, which has global reputation alike. It is as beautiful and captivating as the Kashmir itself.
This craftsmanship is hugely seen on woolen garments, especially shawls, cardigans and woolen and some cotton salwar suits as well. The work is also seen carpets, which are world famous for the intricate craftsmanship.
Kashmiri embroidery has always fascinated people. Apart from the sightseeing, Kashmir and parts of Northern India draw attention of most of the tourists towards boutiques and shops dealing with those embroidered handcrafted items. The elaborate design stands out of all other designs instantly in a shop, thereby becoming a major hit in the tourists’ shopping list. Considered to be the national craft of the state, one can easily find that a large section of traditional Kashmiri workers dedicated to the art of carpet making through generations.
These seasoned workers expertise in their state’s rich heritage work and maintain the legacy of their forefathers. In some cases, entire members of a family are seen practicing this craftsmanship.
What makes more appealing for this work is that they are woven on Kashmiri wool, a superior quality over other wools. This wool can be easily molded into shawls, cardigans and salwar suits, whilst keeping the wearer warm in comparison to the conventional wool. The Cashmere wool, which reigns supreme, is the costlier one, with huge demand all over the world.
The workers obtain this wool from the mountain goats and sheer it naturally. This helps in keeping the natural essence of the wool. The woolen garments made out of this wool are famous all over the country and people from all corners of the world come to this region to purchase this wool.
Different elements of Kashmiri designs
Colors used in Kashmiri embroidery –
White – safed
Green – zingari
Motifs used in Kashmiri embroidery –
The motifs used in Kashmiri embroidery is mostly inspired from nature –
Bird motifs used are parrot, canary, woodpecker and kingfisher
Floral motifs used are iris, lotus, lily, tulip and saffron flower
Other designs are grapes plums, almonds and cherries. The Chinar leaf is an important motif. Butterfly designs are also found.
Used in this embroidery are satin stitches, chain stitch, long and short. Herring bone stitch and darning stitches are used occasionally.
Other stitches used are known as:-
Vata Chickan- Button Hole
Doria- Open Work
Talaibar- Gold Work
Zalakdozi- Chain Stitch
Rafooqani or Darning Stitch
Types of Kashmiri embroidery
1. Crewel embroidery
This is done using a pointed crochet (locally called “Aari”).Crewel embroidery uses woolen or art-silk thread for embroidery. It is used for embroidery work on cotton, organza, velvet, linen and jute ground fabrics suitable for making drapes and upholsteries. These fabrics are also widely found on pillows, throws and bedding.
Crewel embroidery is further divide into two types –
a) 1-ply Embroidery: It uses 1-ply woolen yarn which is cheaper but less durable than 2-ply wool. 1-ply embroidered fabrics are therefore cheaper than 2-ply embroidered fabrics. 1-ply wool embroidery covers larger surface area per stitch when compared to 2-ply embroidery
b) 2-ply Embroidery: Employing 2-ply woolen yarn for embroidery, it costs more than 1-ply and is more durable. The resulting fabric is costlier in comparison to 1-ply embroidered fabrics. Also, 2-ply wool embroidery has a lower surface area per stitch therefore accommodating more colors in a pattern as compared to 1-ply.
A finer form of crewel embroidery using cotton thread instead of wool is worked on apparels like jackets, shawls, sarees, salwar kameez, etc.
2. Needlepoint embroidery
Locally called as “Sozni”, this handcraft is done using a needle of the same name – “sozni”. The embroidery is worked on Pashmina shawls, woolen shawls, jackets, salwar kameez and sarees. Work done on pashminas is comparatively much finer as there is less distance between stitches than other fabrics such as cotton, silk and wool.
3. Silver and gold embroidery
Locally called “tilla”, this type of embroidery work is found on ladies cloaks (“pheron”), shawls and salwar kameez. It is done in needlepoint using gold and silver thread.