Trails of embroidery through hands that embroider from the knowledge of a rich heritage and create timeless shawls that have been highlighting dresses 300 years ago and are just as stylish today! 

Embroideries, craftsmen, paisleys, techniques, fashion runways, glamour and heritage, values, all find a place in the weaves and knits and stitches of these beautiful shawls. 

To write about these inspiring craftspeople, I travelled to Kashmir, was invited into their homes, asked to share in their tea and talk embroidery. I felt a strong kinship to them, as they spoke of their pride in an ancient art and a desire to see it flourish in an age of speed and technology. 

AGENT and ARTISANS

AGENT Mohamad Iqbal

A master craftsman Iqbal has been my agent for over a decade. In this time, I have been offered lucrative partnerships by many others, but his unwavering commitment to quality and an integrity as a human being, doesn’t give me any reason for more collaborations.
He let go of a successful corporate career and chose the legacy of his forefathers. Shawl making and embroidering are a business with its challenges and he rose to them with a deep-rooted faith whatever may have been the issues and there were many! Kashmir has been a politically turbulent state, due to militancy and this struck a severe blow to the family business in the 1900s, so he had to move south to Punjab. He is a family oriented person who loves to be around his two sons, but had to be away from them for long periods. Through all of these, I saw him with a serene smile, a little ruffled, but steadfast. 

 

His equation with the “karigars” – Artisans is just as strong.  He made it his job to know the artisans well and went out of his way to help them, if they needed. This community works on contracts with various agents and wages are not too high. They are farmers by summers and craftspeople in winter months. Could working conditions have been better, definitely. To assure myself of their working conditions, during my trip, I visited their homes. Saw simple people, who take pride in their work. They aren’t earning a lot, but are happy in their homes. Not working out of sweatshops! 
One more reason that I continue to work with Iqbal is the assurance, that my work is overseen by him and he will ensure the artisans’ welfare is taken care of in the course of the work.
Not comfortable with social media, he has requested me not to share his pictures.