The fine pashmina shawls have been adorned with hand embroideries since long. Ever since the 17th to 18th centuries to date, the motifs used in embroideries have not changed too much. As pashmina shawls are a true classic by themselves, treasured by women for their own use or to be handed down as pieces of family heirloom; so the embroidery motifs also have something perennial about them. The motifs of paisley or ‘amb‘ and a typical flower shape or ‘butah‘ are as charming as before!
- (the eternal paisley or amb motif)
To begin the process of embroidery, the shawl piece is already dyed but not washed or softened. A tracing of the pattern with perforated lines is set on the prepared piece and a fine powder in contrasting color is rubbed through the perforations. This powder is easily washable when the work is done. Second method is through imposition of design with help of wooden carved blocks. The blocks are dipped in fugitive colors and placed at strategic points as per the design.. Often the scattered embroidered motifs are achieved with help of wooden block prints and the borders etc.employ the former technique of perforated tracing paper.
- (the twirling flowers – small and big)
- During the 18th and 19th centuries, the ‘kani‘ design and the ‘amlikar‘ shawls were quite famous. In ‘amlikar‘ pashmina shawls, the embroidery person used pashmina yarn to embroider the design, which mimicked the true ‘kani‘ design shawl. As we know that the ‘kani‘ design is a more painstaking technique, wherein the craftsman uses many a colored bobbins simultaneously to weave the wonderful motifs at the time of weaving the shawl only.
Today the ‘kani’ technique is still intact; it is prized by patrons of good hand work in west as well in east. Though the term ‘amlikar‘ shawls has vanished. The art of fine embroidery used on cashmere and pashmina shawls is called ‘sozani‘ today. The art of ‘sozani’, which has evolved over the time employs a wide variety of stitches e.g. darning, double darning stitches, running stitch, buttonhole stitch, stem stich, satin stitch and herringbone stitch,and knot stitches. Also under the art of ‘sozani‘ embroidery, a few craftsmen use couching, which is actually a imitation ‘kani‘ stitch; a stem stitch reinforced by a very fine couching stitch.
- (a rare work of hand embroidery, which takes around six months to finish)
Another feature, which sets Kashmiri ‘sozani’ apart from other embroidery traditions is the use of scissors to cut off the loose ends at the back. This feature gives a clean look at the back of a pashmina shawl or wrap.
Soak in the romance of luxurious embroidered cashmere and pashmina shawls!