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Abdul Hamid

Kashmir

Maker's Story

Of the earliest embellishments that Pashmina featured was embroidery. It was at the time when Mughals ruled Kashmir, that Pashminas started getting embroidered with the finest of thread. The thread was fine enough which the gentle and airy Pashmina base could hold. The motifs were evocative of the glorious culture of Mughals, with some inspirations from Persia. Hence, hand-embroidered shawls may be called the earliest of them all. Since then, many artisans from the valley of Kashmir learned embroidering shawls and scarves and made a living by embroidering Pashminas, wool or any other fiber. The making of embroidering Pashmina is not a one week or one month process. It sometimes takes 4-5 years to embroider a Pashmina, and hence needs careful attention, skillful mastery and the highest level of patience from each artisan who is associated with the embroidery process. Not only embroidery, but the entire making of a Pashmina shawl is carried out by as many as 30 different craftsmen which in ancient times made Pashmina making a family affair. It was the single Pashmina making process that helped families survive for their lifetimes. If one family member was a spinner, others would be a weaver and some would be embroidery artists. Hence the entire family would reap the fruits of hard work. This was when Pashmina industry was in full bloom. In the early 90's, disaster struck, and machines took over. With the introduction of power looms, the artisans who ruled the Pashmina making industry were brought down by machine owners. The families which were survived by Pashmina lost their only source of income. The masters of the art now found it difficult to even scrape out a living as laborers. This economy suffered, artisans with masterly skills were forced to work as blue-collared workers, factories got shut, and what remained were only the memories of their time. Such an artisan is Mr. Dar, who we went to meet, in a quaint village of the valley. Abdul Hamid Dar who comes from a small village in Budgam District of Kashmir, was once a talented young embroidery artisan who enjoyed working over Pashmina shawl. He was very well known amongst peers to have such talent at a young age. But when the power loom took over and Pashmina makers were forced to take up other jobs, Dar had nothing to embroider his majestic motifs over. In a young age, he was traumatised by a job loss and suffering of his entire family, which was one of the families survived by only Pashmina making. His mother was a spinner, his father and uncle were weavers, and he and his brothers had taken embroidery as a passionate job and hobby both. But power looms had left the family in the gallows of poverty which now lived hand to mouth. Soon Dar had realized that a solution had to be found out to survive his family. Slowly but steadily, with hardwork and patience, Dar seperated a small room at his residence and kept it exclusively for Pashmina embroidering. Dar explored the market and found some similar cases, some families which had been left in devastation, even after being the kings of their times. Dar trained some local men, women and his own family members in Sozni Kari - a thread work used on Pashmina for embroidery. Soon this group of 8-10 people attracted sellers in their locality, who trusted this group the most as far as embroidering a lavish Pashmina was concerned. But this wasnt enough for Dar. "We still had Pashmina shawls of others, who we could embroidered, but the chain of middlemen was too long for the profit to reach us". says Dar when asked about his current situation. With an hour long interview with Dar, we realized that what was hurting the artisans more than the power loom was the treatment their talent was getting. "The store owner sells a Pashmina, and keeps mazimum portion of profit for himself, some for the supplier, some for the wholessaler and some for retailers. The least portion reaches us, the artisans who are the actual planners and directors behind the scenes. Isn't this unfortunate?" Dar complained. It actually was unfortunate on part of the artisans, who did the real magic over a plain shawl. Embroidery artisans or makers of Pashmina wanted fair trade because everything their hands deserved would go to the sellers, who had zero contribution in the making. "Hand embroidery costs us our health. We have backaches, headaches nd eye strain is the most common issues faced by us embroiderers, but what we get in return is nothing as compared to the hardwork we put in". Atleast give us just what we deserve, nothing more" Dar accused the marketers. Pashmina.com Every problem that Dar faced came to an end as soon as he met our team. At Pashmina.com, we love handmade and feel that it is those hands which contribute towards maiing the Pashmina ethereal, that deserve the main accolade. For this reason, our store is filled with handmade beauties only. Pashmina.com directly deals with grassroot artisans. Our team of experts themselves visits each artisan's home to acquire the pieces they have handmade. Later it is sent for designing and finishing touches. There is no interference of retailers, shopkeepers, wholesalers, or store keepers. Its just us and the makers of our products. Pashmina.com is based on fair trade and sustainable activites. Our Pashmina making is responsible and ethical, wherin no animal is hurt or killed and the makers of shawls, stoles, scarves and hijabs get their deserved amount exactly at the time of our acquisition. Shop Hand Embroidered Pashmninas Here.

Our Artisans

Empowering the community of artisans associated with us is fundamental to our core values. Their livelihood to a certain extent depends on us. Our artisans work painstakingly to acquire, weave, embroider our luxury pieces; hence we too work hard to promote this shared sense of partnership.
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