Once a class topper, Mohammed Iqbal Beigh had to quit studies to help his ailing father financially. His father was a labourer who couldn't work too much because of ill health. Hence the responsibility to take care of this family of 11 fell on his young and tender shoulders. Beigh loved studying, going to school and having fun with friends. But nothing was in his control. Hence he gave up on studying and went to earn at the tender age of 12. Beigh never liked labour. He had always seen his father tired, sweaty and sometimes out of breath while doing a hard job. He didn't have good memories of labour. Hence he went to a Pashmina factory and asked a relative to give him some work, with the help of which he could assist his father. This relative of his was an embroidery artisan, and that is what he decided to train Beigh in. Embroidery is one of the finest and the first decorations that Kashmiri Pashmina featured. It was at the time of the Mughals when Pashminas were embroidered in motifs inspired by the Mughal culture. Shawls, stoles and linen would be embroidered and only the royals from the Mughal courts would afford it. Since then, Pashmina was gradually made affordable to the common masses and employment was hence generated. Soon, Beigh became one of the finest embroidery artisans who could embroider shawls in any design the buyer wished. He could custom make shawls in any design and colour and was a perfectionist when it came to designing. There were times when he even dared to argue with his seniors if they didn't work according to the liking of the customer. Today, Beigh is one of those embroidery artisans, who are inquired about by customers, because they know what talent is hidden in his hands.
Beigh and Pashmina.com
One of his satisfied customers informed us about Beigh and asked us to approach him. We met Beigh at his residence and asked him to join us. He at once agreed and seemed pretty delighted about it. The reason for his quick response was his dissatisfaction with the current issues the Pashmina industry faces. With the advent of Machines, artisans who handmade shawls or who hand embroidered them suffered endlessly. Machines produce more shawls and hence the pressure on embroidery artisans is more than double. And what they get in return is not enough even for a single person to survive, let alone his family of 11 members (now 7). Maximum profits are taken up by the factory owners, retailers, and sellers by and large. And what remains for the actual makers are peanuts. Pashmina.com and Beigh have a healthy relationship. We actually admire the somewhat stern fashion in which he works. Even though Beigh is sometimes strict with the young learners, but what he teaches them, can't be taught at even the best of institutions of craft. We are as proud to have Beigh with us, as he is satisfied.