Thus, it is mostly after it has been embroidered that a Pashmina length becomes a shawl. With the delicate nature of the Pashmina yarn in view pure Pashmina lengths are rarely embroidered all over the field. These are the edges bordering the length on both sides and a strip across the width on either side that are usually embroidered. This on one hand frames the beauty and grace in which a Pashmina length inherently abounds and thus help enhance it and, on the other, strengthens its edges. Of this shawl, too, these are just its borders, pallus and four corners inside the embroidered space that have been embroidered. The larger motif, used for embellishing the four corners, assimilates many flower-motifs, some isolated and others in bunches, and some variants of Paisleys. The borders and pallus pursue a uniform design pattern except that the pallu-design has an additional row of an arched flower or of a floral arch-type motif. The main design-motif is a flower-plant with a pair of elaborate leaves and over them is its wider expanse. Two diagonally turned Paisley-like modeled motifs flank the main motif on either side. Both sets of motifs are contained within a linear course, curving arch-like over the main motif and like a well or recess for accommodating the subordinate motifs.
It is difficult to say whether the shawl, this or any, especially of Pashmina yarn, is a product of loom, bobbin and any of the weaving instruments or of the needle, for while the former create its mere base, the latter, its entire magic, its beauty and appeal. The preference of taste, aesthetics and ingenuity obviously goes in the favour the needle : a thing so small and insignificant measuring its pace in millimeters but creating a talismanic world so full of wonders that the eye once caught into its bewitching ruts finds it difficult to eject. It is for such preferences that the art-lovers or those who love artistically crafted things prefer calling it as ‘Sozni shawl’, a term not dragging into the realm of pedantry but only expressing respect for ‘needle’ – ‘sozn’, and for its ability to create elegance and beauty.
A simple term with straight thrust, ‘Sozni’ consists of ‘sozn’, a Persian word meaning ‘needle’, and the suffix ‘i’ conjointly meaning ‘needle-work’. It does not refer to any particular kind of stitch or to a set of technical requirements, it only denotes that the embroidery on a Sozni shawl is pure needle-work done by hands and is intricate, exquisite and distinctive. What actually conditions the needle-work to deserve the status of Sozni embroidery is its exceptional fineness, great perfection, flawless finish, elegance and the highest quality of the workmanship, for these are the merits of the needle-work that define Sozni as an exclusive class of embroidery and give it its distinction. Inspired by pure aesthetics, unlike Kantha and many other forms of embroidery that strive to represent legends and mythical themes, Sozni embroidery represents merely motifs such as revealed beauty and the mystique of simplicity.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.