Did you know that a Kashmiri shawl with sozni embroidery can take from 6 months to a year to be handcrafted? That there are more than 5 different ways to craft a shawl, and that some designs are embroidered and some are woven? That traditions of shawl weaving are still the same as they were centuries ago?
The valley of Kashmir has always been renowned for its rich heritage of arts, culture and unique design techniques. From the floral patterns of the Mughal era to the relatively modern paisley, Kashmir arts is a story of imagination and the historical evolution of designs influenced by different cultures and dynasties. The Kashmir shawl represents the numerous achievements, struggles and hardships experienced by the people of this beautiful valley.
It was while filming a documentary on the Kashmir conflict in 2010 when journalists Imran Khan and Judit Alguero first gained the knowledge about this exquisite craft. While searching for people to interview, they came across a 72 year-old artisan, Ghulam Hussain who talked about the impact of conflict on their day to day lives. He discussed the tremendous amount of effort and skill required to craft one of these masterpieces and explained the techniques he had learned from his father. As is the case with most Kashmiri artisans, his workshop occupied a place in his house and over the years, with a small team of artisans, he had crafted thousands of unique shawls. Unfortunately, despite working in handicrafts for over five decades, Ghulam refused to let his grandson work in his profession and instead wanted him to become a doctor or a lawyer.
He is like many other Kashmiri artisans who inherited this art from their ancestors but no longer want their future generations to pursue it due to rising prices and the increasing demand of duplicate pashminas sold across the world. As a consequence, thousands of families are looking for an alternative means of income and the last traces of the original Kashmiri shawl are slowly vanishing. The handicrafts industry of Kashmir provides a living to over half a million people but the 23 year old conflict has further shattered Kashmir’s economy and the market for indigenous handmade Kashmiri shawls is declined at an alarming rate.
Driven by a passion to preserve this ancient tradition and to promote these high-quality original crafts, Kashmir Shawl Atelier was formed. Aimed to bridge the gap between this exquisite craft and the world, this blog is focused on explaining the hardships endured by these craftsmen to support their families. Through articles and stories, we will trace back the roots of the Kashmir shawls and its impact on both Kashmir and the world. We will also be talking about our experiences and discussing our exclusive range of handcrafted shawls and the ideas that influence their designs and colours.
Have you ever owned a Kashmiri shawl? A real one, a soft and delicate one containing the richness of that heritage? Kashmir Shawl Atelier has selected all that beauty and brings it back to you: easy to buy via our online store, your shawl will be at your home in less than a week, filled with Kashmir magic and ancient knowledge, at its best quality and design.
If you like our KSA shawls and products, tweet us at @Kshawlatelier, let us know how great those shawls looks on you… or even better, also tweet it to your friends, or follow us at Facebook/KashmirShawlAtelier, sending us pictures, thoughts or recommendation. We do care about your opinions, we proudly believe we bring some beauty to the beauty!