A complete silence engulfs a small room where a number of embroidery artisans sit together over their day's work, and hardly speak to each other. There are a number of national and international awards, certificates and appreciation letters hung over walls that describe the place and people we had come to visit. Ghulam Mohammed Beigh, a 70-year-old sozni artisan hails from the main city of Srinagar. It is his home whose second floor we are in. He himself sits in a corner and embroiders shawls in designs that we did not have words to describe. A craft marvel indeed. Beigh has spent his entire life embroidering Pashmina shawls, not because he needed to earn money and fame, but he wanted to keep this glorious craft alive. Working from the last 40 years, Beigh's fingers have got pockmarks because of continuous needle pricks that the golden hands have endured for 4 decades now Beigh grew up in a family of artisans, where his father, grandfather and uncles all were associated with Pashmina embroidery. Every member of this family is a state or national award winner. Beigh was allured towards Pashmina embroidery work since childhood and this was his hobby first and a full-time job later. He had quickly learned the skill of Sozni embroidery and till now continues to train young men and women so that they earn a living, become independent, and keep the ever idolized Pashmina living and vibrant. If we were asked to describe the collections we saw at Beighs, we would simply describe them as a classic. There were shawls on which embroidery covered the entire base, making it barely visible at the borders. Some pieces were embroidered in such a fashion that the front and the back looked identical. These rarely made shawls are called Aksi Do Rukha. Beigh gives his family all the credit for making him such skillful, especially his elder brother. He says that the art of embroidery is in their genes and would have remained so if the younger generation didn't lack the patience that we had. "I believe that my kids and their kids will continue to inherit this art from us even after my death, but I cannot be sure of this. The younger generations lack patience which is a key ingredient in every process of Pashmina making. I wanted to train hundreds of men and women in Sozni embroidery, but a few are willing to learn", says the Shilp Guru award winner. "The reason behind the indifference shown by young men and women in this field is fewer earnings other than being lured into white-collar jobs", he said.
Beigh and Pashmina.com
Ghulam Mohammed Beigh currently works with pashmina.com and we are as proud of having his group of employees with us, as he is happy to introduce them. Beigh is very sure that his employees will make a mark in the realms of hand embroidery and keep the hereditary craft alive and operative