Kashmir is a valley in the Himalayan Mountains with a rich and ancient heritage of craftsmanship. It is a land of unique motifs and designing techniques that have been transformed and perfected over centuries. Mastering Kashmiri craftsmanship takes years of training and designing shawls is an art that has been carried forward through generations of craftsmen.
Inspired by ancient techniques, most of our shawls and stoles are first hand-woven from the raw material. Kashmiri shawls are primarily made from three types of fibres: wool, pashmina and silk. The pashmina yarn, also famously known as ‘cashmere’, comes from the hair of the Himalayan goat, a rare animal living above 4,000 metres altitude, only found in Kashmir. A variety of blends of Kashmiri wool with pashmina, and silk with pashmina are also used to weave our semi-pashmina shawls and stoles .
Some of the finest silks in the world also comes from Kashmir as sericulture and tweed weaving are among the major industries. As a matter of fact, untill the 1940s, this precious silk yarn produced in this Valley was exported all over Europe.
Handicrafts in Kashmir have traditionally been family run businesses. While the women are closely involved in the wool spinning and embroidery, the men assist in plying the heavy hand looms. Once the products are woven, the shawls are sent to the dyers and go through a process of hand dyeing, which is done using natural colours. Kashmiri shawls and stoles are designed with earthy colours, but more recently, all other colour are also being used. After dyeing, the shawls and stoles go back to the craftsmen and then starts the intricate process of designing patterns using different sizes of needles depending on the kinds of embroidery.
Here are the most prominent techniques of shawl-making available at our online store:
A form of embroidery using thick needles to produce larger pieces of designs in the shawls. Ari shawls and stoles can be both hand and machine-made. Designs made of Kashmiri motifs are the most traditional patterns, but our collection of Ari stoles also includes a fusion of modern designs.
A form of embroidery using thin needles and therefore a very fine and accurate art requiring much skill and attention to detail. Using needles of different sizes, one shawl may be worked on by as many as two or three artisans and can take any time between one month and a year to complete.
Kani or loom-woven.
A Kani shawl takes weeks to a year for an artisan to complete depending on the embroidery. The shawl is woven with special wooden needles, called ‘kanis’ in Kashmiri, and on a traditional hand loom, hence the name “kani shawls”. The knots are made according to a set design, which is already printed on paper called ‘taleem-e-kakud’ in a language only the taran-guru can interpret. The process of weaving line by line is repeated time and again until the final masterpiece is ready. Our collection also includes kani stoles made using modern looms.
This is a very distinct type of art that involves a mix of hand-painted and embroidered designs. Kalam kari in Urdu means “painting by hand”. Artisans use natural-colour dyes to paint the designs around an embroidered pattern. This type of art is based on kani shawl designs.
These are available in all colours. Our range of plain stoles is a diverse blend of pure pashmina, wool-pashmina and silk-pashmina. Our latest summer collection also includes designs using 100% pure cotton and crêpe. Each piece is hand-woven by craftsmen to produce a fine stole.
Hand dyed shawls and stoles.
They are made by inter-weaving different shaded threads and multiple dying. The stoles are made using pashmina, cotton and Kashmiri silk.
A distinct range of stoles printed with Kashmiri patterns on raw Kashmir silk. The collection also includes a combination of silk-pashmina, silk-viscose or silk-cotton. This collection of printed stoles is available in a wide variety of colours and types.