Kashidakari – An Ancient And Elegant Artwork Of Kashmir

Kashidakari of Kashmir is an ancient and elegant form of craft work in India. Enriched with multiple coloured thick threads, the designs portray images of flowers, birds and various types of leaves. The artistic stitch work is visible widespread on costumes, bedsheets and covers, shawls, pillow and cushion covers, bags and warm floor rugs. A unique feature of Kashidakari is the stitches are so skillfully done, you can use both sides of the cloth alternately.

Gurjar Lady with her Embroidery
Photo of ‘Gurjar Lady with her Embroidery’ by Mike Prince under CC BY 2.0

What type of fabric is used in Kashidakari?

The embroideries of Kashidakari are essentially tailored to warm garments. Hence wool and silk are the preferable options or heavy cotton materials. The colours selected for the fabric are either white or off-white. The reason behind the selection is to bring out the beauty of the patterns along with the colourful heavy threads used. Kashidakari is considered one of the renowned industries of Kashmir, specializing in hand woven skills of the craftsmen. You can realize a marked distinction of the stitching style of the intricate embroidery designs.

What are the different styles of Kashidakari embroidery?

The heavy dense type of embroidery is known as Jaama. It is used in the main body of the apparel and garments. The gorgeous appeal of Jaama stitch enhances the beauty of the costume. Designs of creepers and vines are common in Kashidakari embroidery patterns. The style is called Jaal where numerous groups of the vines adorn the fabric. The delicate and fine work is known as Kashir-Jaal. The type is used mainly in the neckline or the sleeves of costumes.

The colours used for the thread work is mostly silver, golden or other bright metal ones. Different types of stitches are used for the embellishment. The most common are the knot, chain, stem, satin and herringbone stitches. The designs and the patters illustrate the serene and simple nature of the heavenly land, Kashmir.

There are two very unique styles of Kashidakari embroidery. One is the paper mache where the dresses resemble that of stained glass. This is essentially due to the visual effect created by the satin stitch. The designs are seen mostly in the Pashmina shawls. The second one is known as Aari or hook embroidery. The patterns are mainly floral but created with concentric circles.

What is the history behind the traditional stitch work?

History says that the people of Srinagar invented the Kashidakari form of embroidery. The design became popular and renowned during the Mughal era. The emperors and the noblemen promoted the art form and hence flourished the essence of the glamor and charm of the stitch work. The striking colours of the work and the elegant designs are attractive and intriguing. It showcases the skill of the artisans and the innovative power hidden inside them.

The women folk of Kashmir adorn themselves with attires decorated by the wonderful Kashidakari embroidery during the festivals. They also prefer wearing dresses artistically styles by the stitch work, during any rituals or any religious and traditional events.

The Influence of the Modern era on the Designs and Patterns of Kashidakari

The art of stitching is passed on from one generation to the next. The younger men adopt the tradition and bring in innovative techniques in the designs to align with the choices and preferences of the new generation. The artists of Kashmir deserve appreciation for their superb ability in presenting the graceful and fashionable style of artwork. The blend of the traditional touch and sophisticated artistry is classic and smart.

Kashidakari has gained international fame with embroidered garments, accessories, furnishings being sold in the markets abroad. Stoles and shawls with the stitch work are famous in different parts of India and have been trending in the Indian fashion industry. The Indian women have a special liking too for sarees ornamented with the stunning designs of Kashidakari.

Kashmir has been quite profitable in earning substantial revenue from the artwork. With fame spreading exponentially from Indian to global markets, it not only upholds the old tradition and culture of India but also promotes the skill and talents of the craftsmen. The fashion mingles with the exclusive natural beauty of Kashmir. The flora and fauna depicted in the designs represent the simple and pure mindset of the artists and their love for Mother Nature. From years onwards the craftsmen and artisans of Kashmir have been uplifting the traditional artwork with zeal and dedication.

The ethnic look and feel of the artwork provide a royal touch to the costumes. Curtains and rugs with the Kashidakari embroidery present a luxurious definition to the household. The richness and the grandeur of the old traditional stitch work are fascinating. People visiting Kashmir tend to be enticed by the magnificent designs and exquisite patterns. No wonder the products, embellished with the embroidery, are being sold throughout India and even outside India in abundance.

Featured Photo of ‘RED PHIRAN’ by RubyGoes under CC BY 2.0

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