Monday, May 21, 2012

The Zari Embroiderer

While sitting in the kitchen one cool morning, the mother gave me one of her pherans to wear. Just like the grandmother’s, hers was embellished with swirling silver designs around the V neck and sleeves. So uniformly sewn, surely it was done via machine. With Kashmiri pride, grandmother pointed out in her limited English that this was hand done. Later that morning, the mother took me to the shop where her Zari embroidery man worked. Sitting on the floor against the wall nearest the shop’s picture window, the embroiderer in his neutral-colored costume was engrossed in his detailed work. Slender silver-coated thread dangled across his shoulders. Using the couching stitch, he secured the tight silver swirls onto the “V” neck of the midnight-blue woolen pheran. Seeing how enamored I was, he showed me a maroon-colored wedding pheran, executed in a highly elaborate, skillful manner. Considering the high cost of the thread and length of time required to complete each order, it was not surprising that the elderly man’s son was not following in his father’s footsteps. 

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