Kashmiri embroidery, which is also called Kashida embroidery, is a type of needlework from the Kashmir region of India. This is one of the most beautiful forms of embroidery in the country, distinguished by its use of a single long stitch to make the design. In fact, the whole design is made with one or two embroidery stitches which are expertly executed by the embroidery craftsman.
This is what makes Kashmiri embroidery designs extremely unique. This ancient art started as a small cottage industry in the 11th century and then, over the years, became a favorite with the aristocracy and eventually, the Mughal nobility. Today, it is considered one of the most gorgeous types of embroidery in the world.
Kashmiri embroidery work is famous for the smooth, expert manner in which a single stitch is utilized to create elaborate designs. The entire design on a fabric will be created with maximum two stitches, which can be of many different types, from the chain stitch, the satin stitch, the slanted darn stitch, the herringbone stitch and the stem stitch. The typical base of the fabric is silk, wool or cotton; wool is the most commonly used as it is commonly available in the area. The thread used is usually a fine woolen one, though nowadays other materials are used as well. Pashmina, a type of fine and light-weight wool, is the most famous export of Kashmir and Pashmina garments with Kashmiri embroidery work are the most coveted items from this region.
The thread used is usually a fine woolen one, though nowadays other materials are used as well. Pashmina, a type of fine and light-weight wool, is the most famous export of Kashmir and Pashmina garments with Kashmiri embroidery work are the most coveted items from this region. Kashmiri embroidery patterns are usually created on pastel colored backgrounds, in threads of white, beige or pale yellow. The artisans traditionally aimed at blending the thread color with the base color to create a uniquely three-dimensional effect; nowadays, however, brighter colors such as pink, blue and green are used for the base as well as the embroidery threads.
Kashmiri embroidery motifs are more often than not inspired by nature. Popular designs include maple leafs, trees, flowers, twigs, branches, birds, animals and lotus blooms. There are also certain distinctive types of designs that are unique to Kashmiri embroidery, such as the Kashir-Jaal, a fine network of embroidery typically used around the neckline of garments, Jaama, a very thickly embroidered pattern depicting intertwining trees, branches and flowers and Jaal, a fine and delicate network of trees and flowering vines motifs. Depending on the types of motifs and stitches used, there are different names given to sub-types of Kashmiri embroidery, such as Sozni, Papier Mache, Shaaldaar etc. They would all come under the broad category of Kashmiri embroidery.
This type of embroidery can be used to decorate many different types of garments and accessories. Kashmiri embroidery shawls are the most famous and commonly found garments with this type of needlework. Shawls are extremely popular in this region because of the cold climate, but today, they have also become in-demand the world over. Kashmiri embroidery shawls are considered a must-have ethnic winter accessory. The distinctive, intricate designs give them a very beautiful look. They are most often made of wool, with the pure Pashmina varieties being considered the finest.
The most popular garment worn in Kashmir is the salwar kameez so it is no surprise that Kashmiri embroidery salwar kameez are available in many different colors, designs and styles. The embroidery on these garments is usually restricted to the neckline and the borders though exquisite garments heavily embroidered with pretty designs all over are also available.
Nowadays, Kashmiri embroidery sarees are also becoming quite popular. These are usually winter wear sarees, as they are either made of wool or a wool silk blend. The heavy embroidery and nature inspired designs on this saree gives it a very distinctive look and is a great choice for anybody who wants to stand out from the crowd in their traditional garb.
Kashmir embroidery, along with many other regional arts and handicrafts, has become quite trendy in the last few years, mainly due to the ethnic revival trend. Women can flaunt gorgeous Kashmiri embroidery kurtas, kurtis, salwar kameez as well as sarees and team them up with Kashmiri embroidery bags and embroidered jutis to complete the look.
Kashmiri embroidery suits are the most popular because of their beautiful combination of comfort and style. The heavy and thick nature of this kind of needle-work is best complemented with metallic jewelry such as Indian earrings, gold necklaces or silver bangles. Women can also go for the typical Kashmiri look by choosing antique silver or oxidized silver jewelry pieces and a fully embroidered shawl to go with the Kashmiri embroidery suits. If it is a traditional garment in the typical pastel shades then it can be paired up with pearl jewelry, pearl bracelets, and pearl earrings.