Updated: Apr 2
An essence of natural yet modest outlook perceives our mind when we picture a handmade product. It gives us an interpretation, of an ethereal, yet more so an authentic piece of creation. It brings out the most enriching and delicate quality of work, so as to bring out a phenomenal muse. What catches the eye of consumer, is that how profoundly the skills have been set to use, to bring out such fine quality of detailing and visualisation into substance.The main source of production are our independent and up skilled women , who without any education in this field have outgrown themselves. It is really admirable, how the women living in the highlands of India have acquired skills from their ancestors and continued to pursue them further, and are still efficiently generating these top quality products.
The origination of handmade products is been derived from India itself. From the ancient times India has been known for its hand crafted products. So relatively to understand the ethos of handmade products lets dive deep down, into one of the oldest and most popular handmade products of India, woven by Indian women weavers. Pashmina shawls, have remained patronage around the world since primitive times. This art goes long back to the ages of kings ,queens, royal families and nobles. Kashmir the birthplace of the Pashmina shawls, in the 16 century under the Mughal rule. It was the quality and the aesthetics of this art which swooned the Mughal rulers towards this piece of heritage. It is believed that the French monarch Napoleon Bonaparte gifted his wife Josephine, a Pashmina shawl. She is said to have a quite a variety of these shawls. In Iraq, it was valued and gifted to suitors for their political practices.
Photo by Meesha Holley
The Indian palaces at the time Maharaja Ranjit are said to be decorated with the pashmina fabric. This dramatic beauty and ornamental allure which we call Pashmina today, takes months of journey to reach its source of destination, the market. To accomplish the final product, the journey of Pashmina starts right by Ladakh from where it is conjured, through the narrow alleys of Kashmir. Changthang is the land of nomads in Leh. Where the goats are being reared by the local nomads. It is these goats which grow Cashmere which is processed in Kashmir to conceive a Pashmina shawl. In later century, that is when embroidery was introduced in the design of a Pashmina shawl. The technique initiated in the making of an embroidered shawl fabricated the very essence of a Pashmina shawl. Families belonging to the business of hand embroiders of Pashmina have learned, taught and passed on art through generations. These skilled artisans have been meticulously crafting exotic Pashminas in time. Over time these Pashmina shawls worn out, but then they are incorporated by the rafugars into completely new design. Sometimes a client would reject a certain part of the design of a new shawl. Parts would be cut off & replaced with a different design or pattern seamlessly to form a new design.
A truly hand crafted Pashmina feels as though you have engulfed yourself in pristine fluffy clouds. Its soft touch and utmost warmth caresses when you nestle in it. Pashmina has a faintly glossy look owing to its twill tapestry weaving. It reflects small amounts of light and giving it a luxurious appearance.When a hand-crafted Pashmina shawl is hand embroidered in Kashmiri embroideries, it looks and feels more regal. To retain the fine quality of this product pashmina goes through various stages under the expertise of the exceptionally talented weavers. Then skilled embroiderers work their magic on it and transform it from a plain shawl to a delicate piece of beauty, mesmerizing one . The expertise of the craftsmen in these particular stages gives the hand-woven Pashmina shawls their superior quality. All this handwork and contribution brings out various designs and embroidery which aughts to maintain the mobility of hand woven products over the power looms products. The refineness of handcrafted products wins over the marginalized machine made products. The true nature of a product is relished when made by statistics of its true nature. The same product when processed by the machine loses the true value of its nature, the core to it. The commitment the Indian weavers put into their work is astounding.
Patriarchy has overruled our society, for an eternity now but these women have fought down the system patriarchy by matriarchy towards a diverse and a better society. Age long these women work for the healthy living of their family through the utilisation of their magnificent skill set. They bring the creativity, to grow and glow to a different era , inspiring international designers studied from world famous fashion schools. The origin of these products derive from small villages in India with a unique design and prodigy setting them up art from various other products in the market. They sparkle with the aura of elegance and class making them stand out in the market all over the world. Their journey, to market is ampled with various processes, along the involvement of many different buyers, till the reach their main source of market to their final destination, the consumer.
So before the true beauty of a handmade product perishes, lets channel the relishments of these products and cherish them in their true forms rather than the secondary alternatives available to us. Their is true magic which captivates a viewer towards these products when derived from their true source. Lets value the importance, of these handcrafted products and acknowledge the dedication and handwork behind it. Help the workers, to uproot themselves and give them a base to uplift and behold the dignity of their art in the international market.