Srinagar: ‘Moikashi’ gives refinement and a subtle texture to the famed pashmina shawls. However, only a few artisans have mastered this art in the Kashmir valley.
Mushtaq Ahmad belongs to one such family of ‘moikashi’ artisans that continue to do this intricate work for decades. Many feel that a Pashmina shawl is complete after ‘purzgari’, but that is not the case.
“People have a misconception that purzgari and moikashi are the same. It is a wrong notion as purzgars do the finishing work once they get a shawl from the loom. They do remove the threads but several delicate hairs of the Pashmina goat still remain in the shawl. Removing these hairs is a delicate job and has to be done with the help of a needle that only a moikash can do,” artisan Mushtaq Ahmad told The Kashmir Monitor.
Basharat Ahmad whose family runs the ‘Unique Handloom Cottage Industries Ltd’ in the old city said they were trying their best to keep the art of ‘moikashi’ alive.
“It takes us around two days to do moikashi on a single piece of shawl. Some do not go for moikashi at all and as a result, hair of the Pashmina goat can still be found in those shawls. Though we are a family of Pashmina weavers and sellers, we are trying our best to keep the art of moikashi alive in Kashmir,” he said.
An official of the Handicrafts Department said Basharat’s family had been keeping the art alive for around 70 years now.
“Moikashi is a technique of picking off or extracting black hair from the finished pashmina fabric that ensures the refined and subtle texture of the shawl. Basharat’s family is famous as they have been preserving the skill for around seven decades now. His family masters the art of pashmina spinning, rafugari, and moikashi. As a result, we have kept their unit on the itinerary of the Kathi Darwaza circuit of the Crafts Safari that has been started by the Handicrafts Department,” the official said.
The safaris had been started in the wake of Srinagar making it to the coveted list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Crafts and Folk Arts Category for the year 2021.