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Indian traditional textile from Kashmir (Kashida embroidery)

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– Techniques of embroidery for value-addition
– Introducing Kashida embroidered textile of India from Northern zone
-Origin of technique and design with reference to colors, motifs, layouts of different types of Kashida embroidery


  • Embroidery is an ancient variety of decorative needlework in which designs and pictures are created by stitching strands of some material onto a layer of another material.
  • Most embroidery uses thread or wool stitched onto woven fabric, but the stitches could be executed in, for example, wire or leather strands, and embroidery can be worked onto many materials.
  • Folk embroidery has always been a form of self-expression for women. It mirrors their lives, reflects their hidden desires and aspirations, and expresses the cultural traditions and religious beliefs of the society to which they belong.
  • Embroidery or the art of needlework resulted from the passion of womenfolk to express their creativity and ornament their apparel and household textiles.
  • The women embroiderers prepared clothes for their personal use, for their children, and even special items for the use of their men.
  • The animal’s decorations with embroidery are also part of the pastoral tradition. They prepared decorations for the horns of the bull, for their forehead, and also decorative covers.
  • Embroidery is the art of using stitches as a decorative feature in their own right by embellishing fabric or other material with design stitched in strands of threads or yarns using a needle. Embroidery may also incorporate other materials such as metal strips, pearls, beads, quills, and sequins.

Classification of Indian embroideries as the Region

The Indian embroideries can be classified on the basis of the technique of production or as per the region of production, which  are stated below;

Northern India

  • Kashida from Kashmir
  • Phulkari from Punjab
  • Chamba rumal from Himachal Pradesh

 Western India

  • Embroidery from Gujarat
  • Parsi embroidery

Central India

  • Chikankari from uttar Pradesh
  • Phool Patti ka Kaam from Uttar Pradesh
  • Zardozi from Uttar Pradesh

Southern India

  • Kasuti from Karnataka
  • Lambadi embroidery from Andhra Pradesh

Eastern India

  • Kantha from West Bengal
  • Sujani from Bihar
  • Pipli appliqué from Odisha



Kashida is an embroidery style from Kashmir that is practiced by menfolk of the region. The intricate needlework is inspired by the charming natural surroundings of Kashmir.

Kashida, embroidery is quite popular due to its color, texture, design, and technique. The very embroidery is in turn revealed in shawls as well as in cottage industry performed by every member of families of Srinagar. Kashmiri embroidery is particularly practiced by men of the families and is a total commercial craft.


  • The base material for Kashida is cotton, wool, or silk in a variety of colors like white, blue, yellow, purple, red, green, and black.
  • The embroidery threads used to execute Kashida are wool, silk, or cotton depending on the product to be embroidered.
  • The main stitches employed for Kashida are darning stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch, and chain stitch. Special stitches Zalakdozi (chain Stitch) Vata Chikn (button Hole), Doria (openwork), Talaibar (Gold Work).


  • The motifs used in Kashida depict the natural elements which include the rich flora and fauna of the region of Kashmir.
  • Typical motifs are birds like a magpie, kingfisher; flowers, butterflies, maple leaves, almonds, cherries, grapes, and plums.
  • A popular motif seen on embroidered shawls is derived from the cypress cone.

Tracing of the design

  • The selected design is traced on the fabric. It is done by the professional tracers called Naquashband (Nakshaband) following the traditional technique of tracing.
  • The procedure of tracing is as follows
    • The fabric is spread on a flat surface
    • The perforated design sheet is placed over the fabric
    • The charcoal or chalk powder is rubbed over it, which leaves an impression on the fabric
    • To make the tracings durable, gum arabic is added to the powder
    • The traced design is outlined with a pen called Kalam Fabric and Thread Used Different types of fabrics are used for Kashida of Kashmir.

Style of embroidery Technique

There are three styles of embroidery followed in Kashmir.

  • Sozni and Rezkari :  It is mainly done on Shawls using single-strand and sometimes double strands of silk or fine pashmina floss. The stitches are open chain, open stem, couching, fly, buttonhole, and herringbone stitch locally known as Kashmiri stitch. It is intricate embroidery that uses stitches like a fly stitch, stem stitch, and darning stitch. Sozni embroidery or dorukha is often done so skillfully that the motif appears on both sides of the shawl each side having a different color. There is no wrong side. The same design is produced in different colors on both sides.


  • The aari style, also called Zalakdozi employs hook or aari to fill in motifs with chain stitch. motifs here are the well-known flower design finely worked in concentric rings of chain stitch.
  • Mainly done on articles like cushion covers, bed covers, and also on leather items.
  • Also done on the garments like Phirans and poncho.

Kashmiri Couching

  • This is done by twisting 4-6 strands of thread on the right side and couching it with a single thread of the same color.
  • It is very intricate work and extensive training is needed to perfect this technique.
  • In Kashmiri couching, zari thread is laid on the fabric along with a pattern and is held in place with another thread.

Kashmir also produces two very famous works one is called Gabha, a unique type of floor covering and another is Namda, a special work done on carpets.

Gabha work

  • It is a unique type of floor covering,
  • It is very cheap, Devised from old or torn woolen blankets or shawls after being washed milled, and dyed in various colors appliqué work in grey color and bold floral ornamental design is done.
  • Gabha’s work is centered mainly around the town of Anantnag.

Namda Work

  • It is a special work done on a felt carpet with a hook called crewel forming chain stitch which forms the base foundation and it is supplemented by other stitches such as satin, cross filling, etc.
  • This embroidery is done either in white or in various colors where patterns are filled completely with chain stitch and the stitches are started from the center. It is also called Crewel embroidery.
  • The carpet designs selected for Namda ranges from Persian to French like Chinar leaf, Shikargah, Theridar, Bulbuldar, Guldar, Badamdar, Kalka, and so on

Types of Kashmir Embroideries

  • Kashida- is a general term for Kashmir embroidery which includes many stitches namely, chain stitch (zalakdozi), buttonhole (vata chikn), openwork(dora), goldwork (talaibar), and satin (sozni).
  • Zalakdozi- a form of Kashmir embroidery where tiny delicate chain stitch is used to render the stylized paisley motif, a favorite for this art form.
  • Refoogari- which means darning derives the name from the stitch. It is done with the thread as that fabric material used in the base. This results in the interweaving that produces a fine texture in the fabric. Design is worked evenly to look alike on both sides
  • Tapestry work- This art was introduced by Major and Mrs. Handow to make household articles around 1935. It is done with a blunt tapestry needle on the canvas cloth called Dasuta. It is done with the woolen thread called Ear, with whipstitch by counting the threads


  • Kashmiri embroidery is primarily done on shawls and regional garments like phiran.
  • Chain stitch embroidery is done on woolen floor rugs called Gabbas and Namdas.
  • Nowadays, Kashida is also used to decorate household items like bed covers, cushion covers, lampshades, bags, and other accessories and various designers apparel.


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