|"Art at its best,
preserved in style,expressed in moods. The rich artistic patronage of The Mughal's brought
Shal more commonly known as shawl is a length of intricately woven or embroided material
used as a wrap around a body , it is colloquially called Jamawar because the Kings and the
courtiers used to buy it by the yard, ' war ' and make it into a jama, a gown or robe,one
can see examples of these in the miniature paintings and portraits of old kings like
Emperor Akbar .
Jamawars are one of the most fascinating Shawls.The intricacy of
the pattern and the complexity of the color scheme intrigues a person.One can barely
resist a 'jamawar' from Kashmir. "Every shawl has a story behind it -- not just how
it was made; how it was acquired also has a story,Shawl weaving began under the patronage
of the Kashmiri ruler, Zain-ul-'Abidin, in the early 15th century, and flourished during
the latter Moghul period. Each shawl was woven by hand using the laborious
'twill-tapestry' technique, and took years to complete.
The weaving process required a team of workers. Each worker was given a specific
responsibility. The labour was divided between men and women. For instance, the jobs of
cleaning the wool,dying and spinning were performed by women. Men typically had the job of
warp making, drawing the patterns and weaving on handlooms.
The patterns reflect the flora and flaura and the exceptional designing capabilities of
the shawl makers; the shawls themselves tell the story of the historical and political
climate of the period and the struggles of the artisans. Weavers almost became blind in
the process of weaving these shawls.''
During the 18th and 19th centuries British and French colonizers were drawn to the beauty
of Kashmiri shawls. These were taken to Europe as gifts to European royalty which
actually paved the path for the European shawls . Soon, the nobles began coveting them and
the shawls dominated the fashion scene in Europe. When the demand exceeded the supply, the
shawls began to be manufactured in Europe. In contrast to Kashmiri shawls which were
handwoven, the European shawls -- called "Paisley" after a town in Scotland
where they were first made -- were created on Jackard and Power looms.
A Kashmiri Jamawar shawl can have as many as 250 colours, while its European counterpart
usually has only about six to 12 colours. The European shawls also took only a few days or
weeks to complete but on the other hand these original Kashmiri Jamawars used to take few
years to complete.Few of these Jamawars belonging to those era can now only be seen in
museums or with those who's forefathers have kept these Ethenic masterpieces as a
privileged collection of Indian Art and Craft depicting the Indian Heritage and Tradition.