By the mid-19th century in Kashmir the embroiderer’s art had reached its zenith. Here, fine embroidery is known by the Farsi word suzani, which is a generic term for embroidery. Suzani which has developed an extensive and diverse design repertoire that utilizes a variety of stitches including darning and double-darning stitches, running, buttonhole, stem, satin, herringbone, knot, and couching. There are two features that set Kashmiri embroidery apart from other embroidery traditions – one is the imitation kani stitch, a stem stitch reinforced by a very fine couching stitch; this is known as the suzani stitch. The other is the use of scissors to cut the loose threads from the back of the fabric so that there are no floats visible on the reverse.
For most embroidered shawls the designs are block-printed onto the fabric using intricately carved walnut-wood blocks. The embroidery on this shawl is worked on a cream background in deep shades of red, pink, blue, yellow, green, and brown. The pallav is very narrow and the entire body of the shawl is worked with scrolling vines that meander diagonally across the surface from which emerge small butas, flowering plants, and leaves.
Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection.
Textiles and Costumes of India
Pashmina embroidered with silk thread
Late 19th Century CE
217.5 x 127.5 cm