Table of Contents
KASHIDA OF KASHMIR
Dept of Clothing and Textiles
College of Home Science
They continue to gain skill by repeating the motifs on small samples, followed by outlining them. By the time they are of 16years of age, they attain the skill, hand, delicacy and prophesy in craft.
Therefore they continue practice upto about 20years before they will be recognized for fine work and will be allowed to take up Pashmina and Shahtoosh shawls.
The basic raw material, i.e. cloth and designs are provided by the dealers who give orders. But the craftsmen are free to make choices for threads and color combinations. The same piece is than embroidered by various persons till it is completed. Even after passing through many different hands the completed article hardly show any difference in the finish or work.
This depicts the practice and expertise of persons involved and the dexterity that is put into produce a fine piece of embroidery.
According to a historian from Srinagar, Dr. Abdul Ahad, weaving in Kashmir was known as early as third century B.C.
It was flourished by Suttan Zain-ul-Abidin, during fifteenth century, who identified, selected and brought the most talented craftsmen and weavers from Persia to revive the existing art.
These craftsmen moulded the whole composition, structure and style of shawl by employing new motifs and stitches with various color combinations.
This change was responsible for the close relationship and resemblance between Persian and Kashmir embroidery, specially with the motifs.
Many of the Persian floral designs were artistically transformed to most naturalistic flowers of Mughal art, evolving Indo Persian floral design in the art of Kashida.
The art of school weaving reached at its extreme intricacy with the Mughal patronage in 18th century.
At that time, the shawls were exported to Europe where the women draped them over their dresses as a fashion.
Merchants came from all over the world to purchase shawls.
According to quotes of John Irwin, an Englishman of the shawl industry in India, from the manuscript of Moorcraft, an Armenian Khwaja Yusuf had been sent in 1803 from Constantinople to purchase shawls.
Khwaja Yusuf during his stay in Kashmir found that not only was the price of the woven shawl prohibitive but there was also heavy taxation on the looms as well as on the sale price of the shawls.
He, therefore, got the idea of producing a shawl with the help of a Rafoogar. The Jamewar pattern was initiated in embroidery and a shawl was produced by him with the help of a Rafoogar, Ali Saba.
These shawls were later known as Amli or Kani shawls and became quite popular.
The cost of production was much less as they were exempted from the taxes imposed upon the loom shawls of Kashmir.
Thereafter in nineteenth century the demand of the Kashmir shawls started decreasing due to-
High prices because of the complicated woven designs.
In Europe fashion changed and the shawls were no more in vogue.
Therefore, it resulted in the following consequences-
Only people in India and Persia continued to purchase shawls, i.e, there was great fall in demand and consequent low wages of weavers.
1-Pashmina Shawls:The majority of the woolen fabrics of Kashmir, especially the superior quality shawls are the Pashmina or Pashm. According to Rustom J. Mehta, “these shawls are difficult to obtain now on account of India’s loss of trade with Tibet since the latter’s occupation by China. Pashmina shawls were made from the wool of the capra hercus, a species of the wild Asian Mountain goat. Hence the shawls came to be called Pashmina.
2-Do-shala: Do-shala or the double shawl were sold in pairs. Here two identical shawls were stitched together so that when draped over the shoulders the wrong side was not visible.
3-Do-Rookha: Double sided work in which there is no right and wrong side. Sometimes the same design is reproduced in two different colors, on the two sides creating double sided pattern.These had simpler patterns with outlines and details woven in bright colors and being later on worked by hand.
4-Kasaba Shawls: These are square in shape and probably produced on account of European demand. They are generally of twill weave or damask patterns woven into them in a plain color.
5-Jamewar Shawls: Woven wholly of wool or with some cotton mixed but this floral design and brocaded parts are generally in silk or Pashmina wool.
Owing to the presence of picturesque surroundings, majority of motifs are inspired by the nature.However, new designs have continuously been added depending upon the fashion trend and consumers demand.
The motifs used are mainly the birds, flowers, fruits and tree.
The bird motifs used are- parrot, wood pecker, canary, magpie, and kingfisher.
The floral motifs are-Iris,lotus,lily,tulip,and saffron flower.
The fruit motifs are-grapes,plums,cherries,almonds and apple blossoms.
All the motifs are used with variation in their colors, shapes and size.
According to Smt. Dongerkery, “Butterfly designs are also found, but flower and foliage are the dominant motifs. The popularly known shawl pattern is supposed to have been inspired by the cypress cone, almond or river loop in Kashmir and dominates most designs in some from or other.
The influence of Muslim culture can be seen in this industry in that the animal and human figures are not seen in Kashmir embroidery. But few old pieces depicting hunting scenes popularly known as Shikargah, are available in Museums of Srinagar.
The displayed pieces have embroidered borders using bands of marching soldiers and separate panels showing horse riders.
The use of such motifs slowly declined and thus an impression developed that such figures were never used in Kashida of Kashmir.
Several forms of cones that existed in Indo-Persian art around seventeenth and eighteenth century emerged into Kashmiri embroidery as the cone shaped mango motif, popularly known as the Kalka or Badami buta in regional language.
This motif is now produced in infinite varieties on naturalistic, geometrical and stylized designs.
The selected design is traced on the fabrics.It is done by the professional tracers called Naquashband [Nakshaband], following the traditional technique of tracing. The tracing is done in the traditional way even today.
The Procedure of tracing is as follows-
Fabric is spread on a flat surface.
The perforated design sheet is placed over the fabric.
The charcoal or chalk powder is rubbed over it, which leaves the impression over the fabric.
To make the tracings durable, gum Arabic is added to the powder.
The traced design is outlined with a pen called Kalam.
The Naquashbandi is also a hereditary profession carried from one generation to another in Srinagar.
Different types of fabrics are used for Kashida of Kashmir. The most commonly used fabrics are-
Like the fabrics, different types of threads are used in Kashida of Kashmir. The most commonly used threads are-
Art silk,i.e, yarns of synthetic fabrics.
The most commonly used colors for Kashmir shawls are as follows alongwith the terms used for them in local language-
The outstanding feature of this embroidery is the fact that it is made with single threads, resulting in a flat, formalized appearance to the design. The stitches used in Kashida of Kashmir are very simple.
1-The satin stitch-used to cover large surfaces without pulling or puckering the cloth in any way.
2-The stem stitch-used only on boundary of the motif.
3-The chain stitch- used only on inferior pieces and never on an expensive piece of work.
4-The darning stitch
5-The herring bone.
1-Refoogari- It means darning and derives the name from the stitch. It is done with the thread as that fabric material used in the base. This results in the inter-weaving that produces a fine texture in the fabric. It involves a great deal of labour and thus fetches high price for the finished product. Approximately two months or more are required to prepare a good quality product wherein design is worked evenly to look alike on both sides.
2-Namda-It is an important and popular Kashmir embroidery. It is a special work done on a felt carpet with a hook called crewel forming chain stitch which forms the base foundation and it is supplemented by other stitches such as satin, cross filling,etc. This embroidery is done either in white or various colors where patterns are filled completely with chain stitch and the stitches are started from the centre.
It is also called crewel embroidery.
The carpet designs selected for Namda ranges from Persian to French, like Chenar leaf, Shikargah, Theridar, Bulbuldar, Guldar,Badamadar, Kalka and so on.
3-Tapestry Work-It is a kind of Kashmiri embroidery. This art was introduced by Major and Mrs. Handow to make household articles around 1935, when it was done for the first time on the floor coverings. It is done with a blunt tapestry needle on the canvas cloth called Dasuta. The material on which embroidery is to be done is stretched on a wooden frame with the tracing kept along its side. It is done with the woolen thread called Ear, with whip stitch by counting the threads.
It is a very laborious work and takes nearly a month and a half to complete a carpet of 3’*5’. This work is popularly done in Srinagar and Anantnag.
The floor covering, called gabhas and hook-rugs are also produced in Kashmir.
Gabha-It is a unique type of floor covering. It is very cheap, made from old or torn woolen blankets or torn shawls that are used after being washed, milled and dyed in various colors. There are three types of Gabhas-
Both embroidered and appliqué combined
In the appliqué type of gabhas, pieces of dyed blanket cloth are joined together and interspaced with embroidery. The appliqué work is done in bright colors using bold floral and ornamental designs. The production of the Gabha is centred mainly around the town of Anantnag.
Hook rugs- These are also very popular because of their rich designs done in bright as well as light colors. The material used for hook rugs is Hessian cloth that is backed with a layer of strong gunny cloth for additional protection. The embroidery is done with thick woolen threads on entire rug.The hook used is called awl similar to the one used by the cobbler that produce chain stitch.
As described by B.H Baden Powall, the different parts of the embroidered shawl are identified with different terms. The terminology given to different parts of the embroidered shawl is as follows-
1-Hashiya-This term is used for the border that runs along the whole length of a shawl. It can be either single or double or sometimes even treble.
2-Phala-This term is used for the embroidery done at the ends of the shawl and also called as pallu popularly.
3-Tanjir or Zanjir- This term is used for the border with chain stitch running either above or below the phala.
4-Kung butta- This term is used for corner design. It is usually a cluster of flowers. Different names are given to the varied number of rows of butta or cones in the Phala. The commonly used terms are as follows-
Dokad-This term is used when there are two rows.
Sekhad- This term is used when there are five rows.
Tukadar- This term is used when the number of rows is more than five.
5-Ghal-This term is used for the decoration with embroidery in the space between the cone motifs.
6-Alifdar-This term is used for a Kunjabuta that is done exclusively in green color on white background.
7-Matanbagh-This term is used when floral sprays are present in the entire article.
other than shawls
now a days are-
Kashmir embroidery perhaps is the most popular commercial embroidery not only because it has retained its rich heritage but also has made necessary adoption according to the likes, choice and demand of the market.
The Directorate of Handicraft has started a school of design with a view to produce and exhibit new designs.
Alongwith old designs new articles with new designs are constantly bring introduced.
Kashmiri embroidery not only provides employment and livelihood to thousands of people but it depicts the rich century old tradition and heritage of India.
1-Pandit,S.1976. Indian Embroideries:its Variegated Charms. Baroda.
2-Shailaja D.Naik. Traditional Embroideries of India.