New Delhi, November 18
Jammu and Kashmir, known for its beautiful shawls, is making a grand return to the India International Trade Fair (IITF), 2023. This time, the spotlight is on artisans skilled in intricate shawl embroidery.
Opening its doors to the public on November 19, the trade fair promises a treat for those who appreciate cultural and traditional aesthetics. The event features three main hand embroidery crafts — Kani, Sozni and Zari.
The Kani shawl, celebrated for its captivating designs, is crafted by artisans from Kanihama in Kashmir. It is one of India’s oldest handicrafts. The name ‘Kani’ not only signifies the artisans’ origin but also refers to a small wooden oblong spool in Kashmiri which is used to create the designs.
Kani shawls often showcase traditional motifs like paisleys, flowers, leaves and intricate borders. Mohammad Shafi, an artisan at the Jammu and Kashmir pavilion, shares, “The shawl is designed with a needle made from wood.”
Sozni, also known as Suzani, involves an artwork created in satin stitch. Bashir Ahmed, a specialist in Sozni, says it takes around three and a half years to complete one shawl.
What makes Sozni shawls unique is their double-sided artwork, allowing them to be worn on either side with identical or contrasting designs. Ahmed, who has dedicated more than 40 years to this craft, was honoured with the Shilp Guru Award in November 2022 for his outstanding contributions. These awards recognise master craftspersons for their exceptional craftsmanship and the crucial role they play in passing down their skills to other artisans, preserving traditional heritage.
Zari embroidery, a form of handicraft using pure silver, is also on display. Gulzor Ahmed, an artisan of Zari embroidery, emphasises its traditional significance for Kashmiris, especially for brides who are expected to have clothing adorned with Zari embroidery. This royal craft is typically applied to materials like velvet, brocades and silk.
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