Sozni Embroidery from Kashmir: Confluence of Needle, Thread and Pashmina
Sozni (also known as Sozan Kaari) is a popular needle point embroidery technique from Kashmir valley in Northern India. Kashmiri artisans have been practicing Sozni embroidery since almost 500 years ago. It's mainly done in woolen and silk fabrics and very famous for it's use in Pashmina Cashmere shawls and jackets. The interesting fact about Sozni embroidery is that its intricacy can vary from 5 stitches per cm to 500 stiches per cm.
Pashmina Cashmere Shawls could either have a simple Sozni embroidery along the borders or more intricate design through out the fabric and at times completely filling up the fabric. The effort and cost of work depends on the intricacy of the work involved. For instance, to create embroidery panels of 0.5 inch to 1 inch on all 4 borders of a shawl takes 1 month, 2 months for jaali work(mesh work), while doing embroidery all over a shawl (also known as Sozni Jama) takes close to two years.
Jaali work - Looks like meshwork done on palace windows.
Sozni Emboridery uses different motifs such as floral, paisleys, abstract geometrical design.
Sozni Embroidery Process :-
1. Capturing the design on a tracing paper- The Naqash (Designer) makes the design on a tracing paper. The designs are created either by a senior embroidery kaarigar (craftsman) or by designers.
2. Capturing design trace into carved wooden blocks- Once the trace is perfectly done, a wooden block is carved out to make blocks, which would be used to create imprints on the fabric
3. Filling the blocks with charcoal paste or chalk paste- The blocks are filled with either charcoal paste or chalk paste to impart black or white colour to the imprinted design.
4. And then the Embroidery work starts- Once the design is imprinted on the fabric, the embroiderer uses a fine needle and thread to make the embroidery. The thread is usually of silk or a high quality cotton. The main point to note here is that only the artisan who starts the embroidery finishes the embroidery, as embroidery making is just like handwriting and end result varies from person to person.
5. Finishing- Once the embroidery is done, the shawl goes through cleaning and final finishing process.
The artists usually keep one room of their homes as workshop, where they practice and make these beautiful embroidery art which requires high level of concentration.
Undoubtedly, Sozni embroidery is a symbol of artist's perseverance, dedication and hard work.