For centuries altogether, embroideries across regions have been a feast to the eyes. On one hand, they have sustained many artisans who thread it using their specialized tools, earn whatever little they can and spent for their livelihood and on the other hand, they have pleased the lovers of exquisite fashion. Needless to say, embroideries have always remained in vogue, without losing a tad of their glamor across decades and centuries. From cross stitch to chain stitch, different regions, villages and countries of the world have produced diverse forms of embroidery which has evolved according to the tastes of the modern society.
How Was It Introduced?
One such embroidery, the Aari kari, is craft in Kashmir, a beautiful valley with beautiful art forms which is nestle in the lap of Himalayas. The craft of Aari was introduce in the Kashmiri society by a mystic saint who migrated from Persia in the 14th century along with a group of 700 craftsmen. These craftsmen were specialize in engravings, paintings and embroideries and many more crafts which the Valley adopted like its own. Its people welcomed and learnt these new skills with open arms and adopted them as their own means of living. Besides Aari, various other embroideries like Sozni needle work, Paper Mache embroidery, Crewel Kari, Tilla Dozi and Chain Stitch were also introduced. Each had its own unique charm, each had its own unique grace.
Another legend has it that a darner (known as Rafugar) named Alibaba, who lived in the Valley of Kashmir was specialize in stitching torn clothes. One day it so happened that a fowl stepped on one of his drying cloths lying nearby and cast its footprints on the white base. This caught Alibaba’s attention and he decided to get creative about it. He wanted to preserve the footprint as it was and hence outlined it with a needle and thread. Thus, was born Kashida, the Kashmiri embroidered forms which later on took diverse forms, including Aari.
How is it made?
Whatever its origins, Aari Kari became an important occupation in the Valley of Kashmir, where scores of artisans created masterpieces in beauty and resplendence and secured a decent wage for themselves. 6 artisans were and involved in creating an Aari embroidery material - be it clothing, accessories or home decor. Together, with utmost skill and precision, they craft the most gracefully embroidered pieces to existed.
Each piece begins with a designer, known as Naqash, who takes inspiration from the nature surrounding him and captures this on a trace paper. These involve floral and faunal designs which the Valley acclaimed for.Tracing or Champ Traavun
The trace paper perforated along the design (the process is known as Trombun) and then traced with a duster over the desired cloth using temporary ink. Hence, beautiful imprints befall the fabric which will be later on worked upon by another set of artisans.Dyeing the Yarn
Cotton, silk or woolen threads used to cast Aari embroidery. A color combination for the given design, called Rang Baste, is chosen and the yarn dyed accordingly.Embroidery
A traditional hook, known as Aaer used to do the actual embroidery using circular motions of the hand from underneath the fabric. Hence the name Aari embroidery.Washing
Finally the textile is given to a washer, known as Doubb who washes, dries and irons it till the piece achieves its final finesse.Stitching
What was till now a mere material, is finally sent for stitching to a master tailor.Aari Embroidery in Vogue
Aari embroidered materials are stitched into many voguish and traditional objects. These range from apparel to accessories and further to home decor such as cushion or pillow covers, rugs or even beyond. What is amazing about this embroidery is that, no matter how it is stitched, it was and remains the favorite of all. Here are a few styles that the ancient embroidery is known as acclaimed for:1. Ethnic Suits
Summer or winter, aari crafted suits have always remained the talk of the town. Beautiful Kashmiri roses, marigolds and tulips beautify suits of cotton, silk and wool. These suits are especially crafted for comfort, beauty or style of every woman.
Feeling Bold? Wear a heavily embroidered suit.
Feeling minimal? Wear a border or neck embroidered suit.
There’s something in there for everyone.2. Tops & Kurtis
There are those who always go for traditional styles. And then there are those who’d rather balance between the traditional and contemporary. A top or Kurti, laden in ancient heritage embroidery, when paired with jeans, does this trick. Generally, these Kurtis are made in cottons, georgettes or silks. While the cotton and georgette ones are ideal for casual street style, the silk ones look amazing when paired with ethnic trousers.3. Sarees
The beautiful Indian attire is popularly known as Six Yard of elegance.
Because it drapes and defines the body as elegantly as it possible. Aari embroidery done over Sarees makes them a piece of clothing to die for. Typically done over the Pallu, the embroidery falls gracefully over your back and lingers on the memories of those who set their eyes on them.4. Kaftans
Whether you want to wear them for the night, for casual days, shopping sprees, beach or festive occasions - Kaftans prove to be the most versatile clothing of the modern times. Aari embroidered kaftans typically balance between what is stylish, what is comfortable and what is traditional. Aari embroidered ones maintain a touch with the traditional embroidery while also depicting vogue. Now that’s something to hold onto!5. Plazzos
Among a myriad of stylish bottoms that have surged in the past few years, Plazzos have pretty much topped the list. Often plain, the flared of Plazzos, when embroidered in Kashmiri Aari Kari, exudes an entirely different look for the way that are spruced up and highlighted. A little motif on the flare can work wonders for your style statement. Wear them with a crop top, a tee, or even an ethnic Kurti, the bottoms adapt with all types of outfits.6. Gowns and Dresses
Gowns, dresses and maxis - if you’re an ardent fan of modest fashion, these three could save your day. The three have been made in many styles - solids, candid prints, embellishments and what not. But nothing has transformed them into sheer elegance like the Aari embroidery has. While some of these dresses show a Jamawar design (one laden in embroidery to a point that the underlying fabric is not even visible), most of the dresses flaunt the embroidery in minimalism. Typically, these dresses are made out of light georgette because these are essentially meant for the summer, however, silks and cottons are also occasionally used. Summers could not turn more intriguing!7. Phirans
Phirans are traditional cloaks which have been used by Kashmiri people (men and women alike) to shield themselves from the harsh chill of the winter. While men’s phiran are plainer in look, women’s Phirans always embroidered. Why? Because the latter are more in love with colors and would rather not choose an outfit that is totally plain (that would be too monochrome and boring), right? Hence, artisans in kashmir started embroidering the Phiran and transformed them into style statements for the world. Colorful floral, paisley or Chinar leaf motifs are embroidered over the traditional attire. What’s trending is that Phirans are used in replacement of winter kurtis, paired with denim jeans and transformed into amazing fusion wear.9. Jackets
Needless to say, overlays are the new in. They have and still continue to rule the fashion industry. Wear them over a pair of jeans and you’re dressed completely wester. Wear them over a Kurta, and you have slayed the urban fashion. Aari embroidered overlays (jackets in particular) existed long before they even came into vogue. They are typically made in silk (for the summers) and wool (for the winters). Ideal to wear from autumn to spring, an Aari crafted jacket is a must have for both your traditional closet, as well as the urbane one.10. Waistcoats
Waistcoats are basically another variant of jackets which are embroidered in elaborate motifs and designs only to be used like an overlay. Aari embroidered waistcoats are rare and unisex, but they slay the ethnic fashion like none other. Men could wear them over Kurta Pyjamas and women could wear them over jeans or a Kurti.11. Ponchos
Aari embroidered ponchos are unstitched and worn that way. Generally made in wool, their edges and neck and worked upon by a group of Aari artisans, only to be worn as a shield against bitter winter cold.12. Shawls, Stoles and Scarves
Last, but definitely not the least, come our accessories. For decades, Kashmiri shawls have remained the talk of the town, their embroidery being cherished by luxury lovers across the globe. And it’s not just shawls, other forms of stylish wraps like stoles are scarves also feature beautiful designs in Aari embroidery, gracing even a plain attire by leaps and bounds.