Beigh family in Srinagar carries forward legacy of Kani Sozni art on Pashmina shawls

wilayattimes (Jammu and Kashmir)

Srinagar | WTNS | May 12:The art of Kani Sozni, a form of needlework on shawls, has been a work of the Beigh family in Srinagar for five generations now and now Mehboob Ali Beigh has involved his children in this art to keep this delicate work alive.

Mehboob, 50, a resident of the Alamgiri Bazar Gazidori area of Srinagar has been associated with this art for around four decades and has won several awards for his mastery.

Before Mehboob, his father, grandfather and brother have been masters of this delicate craft.

Speaking with the news agency, Beigh said he learnt this art from his father late Ali Mohammad Beigh who had learnt it from his father as his family has been making Sozni shawls for centuries.He said his family has received several national awards on this art including the Shilp Guru Award for outstanding contribution to Indian handicrafts, which was first given to his father in Kashmir in the 1980s.

“My father, grandfather and brother late Shabir Ali Beigh have also received national awards. Shabir won The Art in Action Award from Oxford University Press in 2007,” he said.

Mehboob said the shawl that remained unfinished due to the death of Shabir Ali was later completed by him.

“It took me around one year to understand how my brother had used the thread in designing the intricate pattern and later after around six years I completed this 40/80 feet shawl that helped him to learn further intricacy of this art,” Ali said.

Beigh has received three state awards in 1987, 1988, and 1989. In 1996, he received the national award for his work on a Jamawar shawl and another national award for Sozni in 1997.

Mehboob said despite being illiterate, this art has given them honour and respect and that this work keeps them so busy that they don’t have time to think about other things.

“However, we are getting meagre amounts for this work, despite working from dawn to dusk every day to earn our livelihood,” he said.

Mehboob said there is a good demand for the Sozni work. “However, we are unable to meet this demand as it takes years to complete one piece of it. If any customer demands us for the second piece he/she has to wait for years to get it as it is very delicate work and needs time in completion and the number of such artisans is decreasing,” he said.

Beigh said his children, who are well-educated, have also learned this art to keep it alive.

He said the government has been doing its best for the promotion of Kashmiri handicrafts. “We are hopeful that much more will be done in this regard,” he said.