Kashmir is known for its Tilla embroidery, which is the most prevalent form of embroidery. Tilla is believed to have originated at Zari village in Iran. It reached Kashmir when the revered Muslim saint Ameer Kabeer Mir Sayeed Ali Hamadani, more popularly known as Shah-e-Hamdan (R.A), immigrated into the valley with 700 associates; most of them were craftsmen. Later, Mughal rulers were impressed with Tilla embroidery's exquisiteness, and they used it in their royal courts as well. Since time immemorial, the royal curation of fashion has been tingling with this aesthetic blend.
Tilla is an embroidery work that is used extensively to decorate ethnic clothing. To create lovely designs, needlepoint is used to tie imitation gold or silver threads over the fabric. Accuracy and skill are required throughout the process. In modern-day Kashmir, the needlework of gold and silver threads on apparel makes a hole in the consumer’s pocket and hence only the elites can afford it ever since. The use of gold and silver dust in embroidery began when the value of gold and silver reached an exorbitant high, and that was when the artists proclaimed its use. Gold and Silver-plated copper replaced the precious metal altogether, hence making it a perfect bargain for the middle-class.
Using a specifically numbered needle, a crafter traces the design on paper and perforates it over the design. The process in Kashmiri is called ‘Trombun’. A majority of these prints feature chinar leaves, almond paisleys, and Kashmiri motifs. Tilla design can be a blend of multi colors or one and only. Among these one is mostly a staple and the other is that of bright chrome. The Tilla threads obtained are of varying types – the Angora, Hiran, Murga, and Peacock. Once embroidered, the Tilla gives off a bold, embossed, and multi-dimensional look. Special care is taken to prevent hot iron from coming in direct contact with the Tilla, lest its sheen gets damaged by the heat.
The Tilla Dozi Process
As part of Tilla Dozi, the Naqash, or designer, draws a design on tracing paper and perforates it with the help of a needle, a process known as Trombun. In the meantime, his assistants make the white and blue inks by mixing kerosene with sand from the river of Jhelum. Trace paper is placed carefully on the cloth and covered with a paperweight. Ink is then applied to the cloth (blue for dark-shaded cloths, white for light-shaded ones) with a duster dipped in it. In the end, different types of Kashmiri flowers, chinar leaves, and paisleys appear on these plain pieces of cloth. This “Chaamp Travun” is the second step in casting beautiful embroidery.
After this imprinted cloth has been passed to a Tilla artisan, he uses two threads - one of staple and the other of Tilla - to embroider the plain canvas awaiting his strokes. Threading the Tilla over the fabric with a special needle and fastening this embellishment with a camouflaging cotton thread creates a perfect and long-lasting finish. Tilla is a thread that is entirely new in that malleable copper serves as an underwire and is coated with silver or gold hues to achieve the desired thickness for the embroidery. The Tilla threads thus obtained are of various types - Angora, Hiran, Murga, and Peacock. The thread of the Hiran is the most common because it does not age; its sheen remains unaffected even as time passes. Embroidered apparel or accessories are washed and ironed for a more upscale look once they have been finished. Tilla is carefully handled so that a hot iron does not come in direct contact with it, to prevent its sheen from being damaged.
During the Nikah ceremony, Kashmiri Muslim brides will often wear Tille Daar Pherans (Tilla Worked Phirans) and bring treasures from the craft into their new home. Embroidered Tilla pieces are an integral part of every Kashmiri bride's trousseau due to their undiminished class and sheen. This art has been stretched to clutches and footwear as well. Tilla is a legacy investment that is passed down from generation to generation and the true admirers of this art do not settle for anything less than the finesse achieved by hand.
We at Hanggul make sure that you get the finest quality hand worked tilla at the best. We offer exquisite embellishments and intricate designs fondly cherished as treasured heirlooms. We provide certified quality, luxurious packaging, and free shipping across India. Visit hanggul.com to book your piece today.