One of Kashmir’s oldest crafts, Pashmina-making had been introduced to the region by the 15th-century ruler of Kashmir, Zayn-ul-Abidin, who supported the Sufi saint Syed Ali Hamdani when he brought in weavers from Persia. The foreign craftsman trained Kashmiris in multiple crafts based on the choice of locals. Amongst all of the crafts, Pashmina remained the most flourishing and popular during that times. Since then the craft has been passed from generation to generation with entire families associated with a single piece. One household has spinners, weavers and embroidery artisans. Hence one Pashmina shawl is the product of a single household. Fathers teach their sons and daughters and they in turn teach their children. And likewise, the craft never leaves a particular household and entire clans survive. Since the early 1990s the scenario hasn't been too favorable for artisans. With the introduction of power looms, hand artisans suffered a lot, because a shawl which they made in a month, power looms could make in 15 minutes. And since three decades now, artisans have been more or less begging in front of the government to impose a ban on power looms which snatched their bread and butter and pushed them in extreme poverty, where they fight everyday to make ends meet. It has been 10 years since Mohammed Imran Khan has been associated with Pashmina. He is one of those artisans who never wanted to be associated with this art, but wanted to become a doctor or a engineer. But fate had something else for him. Imran was a brilliant student and a topper in his class, He was smart, active and hardworking. Apart from being a class representative in his own class, his teachers would bring him to his seniors classes and use him as a representation of a perfect student. But tragedy struck When Imran was 15 and the family suffered from severe poverty. Imran was compelled to work for local embroidery artisan to trained Imran in Sozni embroidery work which Imran continues to do till now, to take care of his family finances. Imran has compromised with life, even though it has been bitter for him. He dreams have crashed at a tender age when children do nothing but dream of flying high.
Imran and Pashmina.com
Imran is satisfied with the way we carry out operations. He says that it is very important to know the difference between handmade Pashmina and machine made shawls. And that's what he wants us to do. Inform customers, educate them and demonstrate somehow the fake copies that sell in the name of pure Pashmina shawls all over the world. Imran works with us and has embroidered some marvelous pieces. He specializes in needle work locally known as Sozni embroidery. But Imran still misses his school days. "One reason why I want to earn more is to make my kids doctors - a dream which I could never live - at least they will - if they want to" a heartbroken Imran says.