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Kashmiri sarees are the identity of a unique tradition of Indian textile. It is one of the most popular shopping items of the state. The Northern state of India Jammu & Kashmir, the home of unique craftsmanship is famous for its beautiful, very fine and delicate embroidery. Embroidery here is known as Kasheeda. Neatly embroidered Kashmiri shawls , Kashmiri sarees, Kashmiri kurtis , Kashmiri salwar suits and other dresses explain the beauty of Kashmiri handwork.
Pamposh (lotus), Sosan (Iris), Dachh (vine), Sumbal and Yambarzal (hyacinth and narcissus), Dainposh (pomegranate) are some of the most commonly used motifs. Abstract forms of birds and animals are also seen in the recent designs. Lions, rabbits, wild cats, deers, horses, bulbuls, partridges, herons, ducks etc are most represented in the kashmiri work. Motifs are traced on fabric by professional tracers, who are called as Naquashband (Nakasshaband). These artisans use a pen like device called Kalim for this purpose. Kashmiri Sarees are adorned with exquisite embroidery generally on georgette material. The main types of embroidery done on the kashmiri items are Ari work, Crewel work, Sozni (delicate and fine needle work), Tilla work, Dori work, Rezkar (longer stitches needle work), etc.
In, Aari work the thread is passed through the aari, hooked needle, and is always held under the fabric to be embroidered and the hok is used to pull a series of loops, each emerging from within the previous, to the surface of the fabric. There are two versions of this technique; the first is used to embroider on thin fabrics such as silk, georgette and fine cotton cloth or made into pheran, which is a loose over-garment, kurta and capes.
Crewel work although similar, uses a thicker aari, its stitches are bolder and it is used for embellishing yardages used as upholstery and drapery. The crewel embroidery in earlier times was done only with wool and the fabric used was linen but later on many other yarns like silk and fabrics like cotton and wool were involved in the crewel embroidery.
Sozni is a form of extremely fine and delicate needlework done primarily on shawls - mainly pashmina and high quality raffal. In skillfully executed sozni, the motif appears on both sides of the shawl. Each side displays a different colorway in an embroidered imitation of the woven kani shawls.
Tilla and Dori Work These embroidery techniques are executed with gold or silver zari (tilla) or silk (dori) thread, and are used to embellish pherans, sarees and shawls.
REZKAR This is a form of needle embroidery similar in technique to sozni; the difference lies in its longer stitches and in that these are not reinforced with additional stitches. Three or four strands of staple yarn are employed and the fabric used for this ranges from raffal to cotton cloth.