The name Pashmina has been derived from a Persian word “Pashm” meaning a weavable fibre precisely wool. The wool used for making Pashmina comes from a special breed of Kashmiri goat found in the high altitude regions of the Himalayas. The history of these shawls can be traced back to the 3rd century BC. Pashmina has been an integral part of the traditional wear for centuries. In the earlier times, it was only worn by kings and queens and thus denoted royalty. The art of weaving Pashmina has been passed on as a legacy from generations to generations in the state of Kashmir. A good Pashmina shawl requires an expert hand for spinning, weaving and creating embroidery.
Pashmina shawls are the highest quality shawls crafted from very fine silk like fibre. A pure pashmina can be identified by testing the warmth and softness of the shawl and also by its colour to some extent. Kashmir has been the undisputed producer of the Pashmina Shawls from thousands of years. The production and export of Pashmina is an exclusive trade opportunity for the people of Kashmir. The Pashmina Business serves as a major source of income for the state of Kashmir and gives a good boost to its economy. Although not cheap in its price range, it keeps you warm and light in weight, a pashmina shawl is considered to be a must have in the winter wardrobe. It is an evergreen fashion accessory that looks good in every style and can never lose its charm. It can be worn as a scarf around the neck or can be simply wrapped around the arms. Whether in a party or just to your workplace, a pashmina shawl is the best way to enhance your person-ality and stand out from the crowd.
Kashmir Loom is one of the leading companies in the industry, despite the skills and quality, what makes it outstanding is the exquisite sense in colour and fashion. To give the traditional industry with a modern touch and evolve with the trend is a big challenge, and Kashmir Loom is able to master it into a perfection.
BLOCK PRINTING IN INDIA
India has been renowned for its printed and dyed cotton cloth since the 12th century and the creative processes flourished as the fabric re-ceived royal patronage. Though the earliest records mention the print-ing centre in the south, the craft seems to have been prevalent all over India.
The major items produced were wall hangings, canopies and floor spreads in rich natural colors. Records show that as far back as the 12th century, several centres in the south, on the western and eastern coasts of India became renowned for their excellent printed cotton. In the medieval age printing and dyeing of cottons was specially devel-oped in Rajasthan. Tents were created from printed fabrics and became a necessary part of royal processions. The seasons largely influenced the integration of the highly creative processes of weaving, spinning, dyeing and printing. Festivals also dictated this activity.
Trade in cotton cloth is said to have existed between India and Baby-lon from Buddha's time. Printed and woven cloths traveled to Indone-sia, Malaya and the Far East.
Nowadays, although with the development of organic ink and materi-als, block print craftsmen still work in rooms with natural room tem-perature to make sure each part of the fabric is drying at the same time so that colours will come out evenly.
HAND EMBROIDERY IN INDIA
Indian embroidery takes its inspiration from nature and religion. The colours, the base the theme and the style are reflective of a par-ticular region. Embroidery on leather, velvet, net, cotton and silk is done all over the country. The patterns are decided upon on the basis of the fabric and its texture the stitches depend upon the style and the effect to be produced.
Themes and motifs have remained as such for centuries. Even in the pre historic civilization probably it was the same (embroidery needles have been found in excavations). The patterns have always been floral, animals, geometric and religious. Each embroidery style has its own history and a story of development.
The magnificent metallic embellishment of India — dates back to ancient times. It finds mention in Vedic literature, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and all accounts of the Sultanate period. The coun-try, from very early times, was known for the use of gold embroidery on a variety of objects including furnishings, trappings, parasols, and equestrian ornaments. The more aesthetic and evolved embroideries were used on court costumes and especially on accessories such as shoes.
The historical accounts of this craft are shrouded in the usual romantic stories and inaccurate data. But the only certainty is that zarkas — a Persian word meaning zari or gold embroidery — was widely used in all the accounts. History says that from the 13th century, the crafts-people who worked with this medium, setting seed pearls and precious stones with fine gold and silver wire, were known as zardos workers.
Done with metal wire and metal pieces or sequins on velvet, satin and heavy silk bases, Zardozi is one of the most famous and elaborate techniques in metal embroidery. The original embroidery of Zardozi was done with pure silver wires coated with real gold, and was known as Kalabatun. Though silver and gold wires have now been replaced with synthetic threads, the art remains the same. The use of metal em-broidery in Indian textiles and costumes, especially those used for rit-ual or ceremonial purposes, demonstrates the importance of gold and silver within the culture.
Aari embroidery or crewel work is a speciality of Kashmiri artisans who create it in fine, concentric rings of chain stitch using a long hooked needle known as a crewel. The craft of Aari embroidery has existed in India from the 12th century and was patronized by the Mo-ghul courts. It is a form of very fine embroidery and suited the work-ing of very elaborate and highly refined floral motifs which the royals favoured.
The way geographical area of Gujarat presents so much variety, so do its clothing trends. The textiles and dress of Gujarat in northwestern India are acclaimed for their design and craftsmanship, the fine thread work, use of beats, astragals, small patches, mirror works, clothe pieces are commonly found as add ups of Guajarati outfits. This is the fineness and creativity of Gujarati embroiders.
The sophisticated weaves, dyeing techniques, intricate embroideries, vibrant motifs and embellished dress, and the communities to which many of these are unique.
The very colourful combination in fabrics and stitchings give Gujarati style a strong impact, international designers often inspired by it and many use it on jacket and handbag design. In India, Gujarati fabrics are used to make bags, each bag has its own character due to the au-thenticity of each piece of fabric.
The internationally famous gem craft of Jaipur has a very old tradition. Skilful craftsmen from Delhi, Agra and Varanasi were among the first to be invited to settle in Jaipur. They not only kept alive but also achieved further excellence in their family skills and traditions some families of jewellers connected with this have helped Jaipur to become one of the main centre in this sphere in the world.
This pursuit of artistic excellence has been a living tradition through-out more than two hundred fifty years of the history of Jaipur town. Jaipur occupies a special place at the international level due to its multifaceted identity.
It has been the special good fortune of Jaipur that arts, crafts, architec-ture and fine arts continued to develop here while the rest of India saw unsettled conditions. The Mughal Empire began to disintegrate in the early Eighteenth century. Large areas of India were ravaged by the Pendaris and Thugs. The Marathas, Tipu Sultan and the Osmania rul-ers of Hyderabad fought each other for supremacy in the sub-continent while the Marathas plundered Agra and Delhi, Jaipur were untouched. The Jaipur state was an area of peace and settled conditions. For about a thousand years the Amer state and Jaipur, Pink City didn’t see any attackers.
Today Jaipur is known all over the world over as a gem centre. It is the world capital for Emerald because eighty percent of all finished emerald work of the world originated form Jaipur. From costly Emer-ald to Semi-precious and artificial gems, eighty-four kinds of gems are cut and finished here. Gem work of very high quality is done here by craftsmen who use very simple tools, work not in any factory but in barely finished rooms at home, following the family or traditional style of craftsmanship. No machines are used. Often the whole family is engaged in this work.