It’s a craft you instantly associate with Kashmir. It abounds with vibrant floral motifs, and delicate creepers among others. Crewel embroidery is indeed a fascinating needle art. It is a form of embroidery in which patterns are lightly stenciled onto a fabric and then they are embroidered over. This style is a type of free embroidery, meaning that the threads of the underlying fabric are not counted while the artisan works on the design.
The tool used is a kind of pointed crochet (locally called “Aari”) and is worked on cotton, wool, silk and other fabrics. Crewel embroidery uses woolen or art-silk thread for embroidery. It is used for embroidery work on cotton, organza, velvet, linen and jute ground fabrics.
The thread is passed through the ari, hooked needle, and is always held under the fabric to be embroidered and the hook is used to pull a series of loops, each emerging from within the previous, to the surface of the fabric. There are two versions of this technique; the first is used to embroider on thin fabrics such as silk and fine cotton cloth, used as stoles and shawls or made into pheran, which is a loose over-garment, kurta and capes. Crewel work, although similar, uses a thicker ari and is normally done on unbleached fabric; its stitches are bolder and it is used for embellishing yardages used as upholstery and drapery. In both cases, the patterns are usually linear abstractions of the local flora, with the outlines worked first and the embroiderers are usually men from the Sunni Muslim community.
Flowers, in all their variety and glory, occupy the craft Pamposh (lotus), Sosan (Iris), Dachh (vine), Sumbal and Yambarzal (hyacinth and narcissus), Dainposh (pomegranate) are some of the most commonly used motifs. Abstract forms of birds and animals are also seen in the recent designs. Lions, rabbits, wild cats, deers, horses, bulbuls, partridges, herons, ducks etc are most represented. Human figures appear in the patterns whenever requested by the clients, especially in themes like the ‘Shikargah ‘(hunting ground) or the ‘Jangal-tarah ‘(jungle scenes). ‘Jamwar’ is a pattern, which covers the entire shawl. ‘Jalidar’ designs are Arabesques or net-like designs. ‘Khatraash‘pattern involves lines of different slopes.
Master craftsman Jahangir Bhat brings to Direct Create his exquisite delicate work on bright cushion covers.