The Elite of Embroideries – Sozni

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“Of all Indian textiles none excels in beauty, color, texture and design –the famous Kashmir Shawl.”

That is how elite the Kashmirilegacy is. The richness of our crafts and the handmade arts speak for themselves in timeless years without losing a tad of their grandeur. And nothing embellishes a Pashmina more than the intricately hand worked Sozni, the Kashmiri needlework art.

Sozni, like many other Arts ofKashmir was brought in to Kashmir by the revered saint and scholar Mir Syed AliHamdani, popularly known in Kashmir as Shah Hamdan (RA). Among the 700 Persian craftsmen that came with him to Kashmir, were a number of Sozin Kaars (needle workers). When Shah Hamdan came to Ladakh and discovered Pashmina, he introduced shawl making in Kashmir and taught thelocals how to embellish the craft using Sozni Work. Thus began the precious artof Sozni Kaem, also known as setchzinikaem in local lingo. 

Sozni is done in hand, with a smallneedle that at the hands of the artisan works magic on a Shawl. Sozni is alsodone on other apparel in the fabrics of cotton, silk and wool. Though theembroidery is extremely fine on the Pashmina Shawls as compared to the silk,cotton or woolen fabric, the charm it inspires is nonetheless the same.

Sozni Motifs

Sozni kaem is popular in many traditionalmotifs like badum (almond) that iscommonly known as paisley, iris, tulip, lotus and saffron flower. Bird motifsas in parrot, canary, woodpecker, butterfly and kingfisher are embroidered inbeautiful colors. Cherries and grapes, the nature inspired daffodils andmarigolds, the beautiful green grass all find a place in the Sozni craft. Andlast but not the least, the Chinar leaf in abstract color art is among the mostsort after motif after the classic paisleys.

Sozni Pashmina Tale

After a Pashmina Shawl is chosenfor Sozni embroidery, it undergoes a number of processes to come up as amasterpiece. A particular design is chosen, as per the requirements and takento a Naqash (block printer). The Naqash block prints the design which is thenforwarded to the Sozin kaar to startthe work on. Unless it is a custom shawl, the artisan chooses the colorshimself and sets to work, hand embroidering the Shawl to perfection.

Types of Sozni Pashmina Shawls

Depending upon the nature ofembroidery and type of work, Sozni Pashmina Shawls are of following types.

1. Jamawar: Anintricately worked on Pashmina Shawl, the embroidery in which spreads acrossthe entirety of the shawl with almost nothing of the base showing.

2. Jaaldar: Is a loosely embroidered sozni pattern which again spreads out on the entire shawljust in a much looser and spread out manner than the Jamawar.

3. Bootidar: This beautiful type of Sozni Pashmina has small floral or bird motif spreadacross the length and breadth of the shawl and may or may not have embroidered cornermotifs.   

4. Palldar: In Palldar Sozni Shawl, the embroidery is only on the two border lengths only.

5. Dorredar:The dorredar type of Sozni Pashmina is the one that has embroidery on all sides of the border.

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