Kashmiri Embroidery Types

In Kashmir, we experience colorful embroidery on all kinds of apparel and fabric - Crewel Fabrics, Shawls, Jackets and many more. There are many different types of embroidery techniques used by Kashmiri craftsmen. I will try to give a brief description of some.

1. Crewel embroidery: It is done using a pointed crochet ("Aari") on a cotton, wool, silk or some other suitable fabric. 

Crewel embroidery uses woolen or art-silk yarn for embroidery. The background fabric can be cotton, organza, velvet, linen or jute suitable for curtains and upholstery projects (except organza which is a sheer fabric). These fabrics also find good use in making bedspreads, throws and pillows. 

Crewel embroidery is of two types:
1-ply embroidery:  A single ply woolen yarn is used for this type of embroidery. The lower yarn cost and associated wages result in a cheaper fabric which attracts customers in the local market also (considering crewel fabric is mainly a cross-border product). 

2-ply embroidery: Using a more durable 2-ply woolen yarn for embroidery, it is costlier of the two and is known to last decades if cared for properly. The finer wool gives these fabrics a more clean appearance in comparison.

1-ply and 2-ply crewel embroidery comparison

A second form of crewel embroidery uses cotton yarn instead of wool and is worked on apparel - coats, jackets, shawls, salwar kameez and others. The embroidery is so fine that it adds very little to the weight of the fabric. An allover design jacket for example may add as little as 100 grams to its weight after embroidery. Woolen crewel embroidery in comparison will add 200 to 300 grams to each yard of fabric.

2. Needlework embroidery (“Sozni”): Done using a needle, “sozni” is worked on Pashmina shawls, woolen shawls, jackets, salwar kameez and sarees. Work done on pashmina is comparatively much finer (picture below) than other fabrics (cotton, silk and wool).

3. Silver and gold embroidery: Locally called “tilla”, this type of embroidery work is found on ladies cloaks (“pheron”), shawls and salwar kameez. It is done using imitation gold and silver yarn.

2 Responses

Shah Nawaz
Shah Nawaz

July 25, 2019

Hey @Elisabeth,
Fabric can be Made in Kashmir (100% Wool or Pashmina), but here we have highlighted the differences in embroidery only.
So if it is sold as 100% Pure Kashmiri, it could refer to either the fabric or the embroidery or both.

Elisabeth Baril
Elisabeth Baril

July 22, 2019

When I shop in India, lot of shawl and other clothing mention to be made of 100% pure Kashmiri. I would like to know what is the composition of this fabric. It is not sold as kashmer, it is different in price and apparence as weel.
And answer would be appreciated.

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