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Atoll-Blue Kashmiri Crepe Silk Sari with Sozni Embroidery

Atoll-Blue Kashmiri Crepe Silk Sari with Sozni Embroidery
Item Code: SAN23
Pure Crepe Silk
Blouse/Underskirt Tailormade toSize
Fine intricate needle-work by hand, not a particular variety of textile, any special weaving technique, fibre or anything of the sort, barring some classes of wools and wool-weaving, is what distinguishes a textile length as Kashmiri, to include even a sari, as this atoll-blue crepe silk-piece, which is neither a regular component of a Kashmiri woman’s ensemble, nor Kashmir is a silk-producing region or a silk-weaving centre. This style of needle-work, discovering various design-motifs and patterns : delicate bels – creepers, flowers, leaves, tiny butis, petals scattered here and there, more than one style of flowers on the same twig, each revealing its own beauty and fragrance independent of the other, betraying no effort at coherence, or to look mutually linked or connected, is known in the textile tradition as ‘sozni’.

A textile’s earlier identity, anything that defined it by the class of its material, such as some known classes of silks : ‘crepe’, ‘moonga’, ‘kosha’, tussore, technique of spinning or weaving, such as spun or reeled silks, or handloom or machine woven, or overall concept of a piece, dilutes after the Kashmiri embroiderer’s thread passes from his skilled fingers, stitch by stitch, into the form of a delicate bel or a multi-colour plant creating a new magic world of nature acquiring ‘Kashmiri’ as its new identity – any textile’s pride to have that name representing one of the world’s most sophisticated textile arts known for delicately rendered motifs, and for finish, grace and ultimate beauty. The term ‘Kashmiri’ ensures not only the rarest quality of its art but also the purity of the fibre for when a Kashmiri artisan’s needle pricks a length, his fingers instinctively have a feel of genuine and fake and refuse to move forward if the yarn betrays variations in the fibre’s quality or class.

Atoll-blue – the bright blue colour of a lagoon edged by a coral reef blending into it its brilliance it borrows from the sun, this sari is a rare combination of the nature’s hue, lustre of the material : crepe silk, it has been woven from, and the flavour of Kashmir whose hands have transformed an otherwise plain length into one of the richest styles of saris. Woven tough and processed into the ‘softest’, with the strength of its yarn and the softness of its feel, of all silks crepe is the best medium in which Kashmiri character of art, sophistication of fine fingers and the temperament of cool, quiet Himalayan valley and its people best reflect. Woven from the hard spun yarn in gum or natural condition crepe is normally a tough fibre. It is only through the process of extracting gum that the crepe silk obtains its softness, in the touch as also in the feel. These mutually contradicting characters of the crepe silk : toughness of yarn and softness of feel, makes it the best medium of Kashmiri art-work for while multiple pricks of needle and the extra weight of threads required the strength of the holding yarn, the delicate patterning of Kashmiri art required the softest possible surface to assimilate with.

As is usual in designing most of them, this sari too uses triple scheme of embroidery : a border on all four sides, an elaborate palla – end-part, and the field, though in variation to usual scheme for the border that mounts edges, especially those on the longer sides, this sari has left all four edges plain, narrower on the longer sides and a bit broader on breadths. The border’s outer edge consists of a straight thick gold-line with a course of tiny leaves surmounting it on its outer edges. About one and a half inches wide border consists of densely laid tiny creepers, straight, curved or rounded, comprising multi-colour leaves that at times are manipulated to reveal a flower like form. Not exactly equal, the border has been divided into a number of sections, each about eight inches long. It has, besides the tiny creepers, a group of four larger leaves in gold like lustrous thread and in each section about three Paisley like formations. The palla consists of detached creepers comprising leaves and variously styled flowers, some of them in Paisley style and others in bright golden thread. The field has scattered all over it a butah in the form of a tiny plant, each comprising two pairs of leaves and six flowers of two styles.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.

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