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Is It Cloth, Is It a Dream? What is Kimkhwaab?

Zain Anwar | Jun 26, 2015, 14:00 IST
Is It Cloth, Is It a Dream? What is Kimkhwaab?
Tupur Chatterjee in Vikram Phadnis
India has always been a pothole of designs and fabrics par brilliance. For centuries now, the nation has invited the world with its glittering fabrics and its shimmering work of motifs on the same. Fashion in India has always been fabulous and some of its glorious gems have been preserved by its patrons till date. One such thing is Kimkhwaab, which literally means ‘the fabric of dreams’.
What is Kimkhwaab?
One of the most coveted fabrics of the nation, Kimkhwaab is created by a series of embroidery on silk. The richest silk fabric is chosen as the base and work of embroidery is created on it. The work is usually created through golden threads. The layer of golden glitter over silk is called ‘Kalabattu’. The Kalabattu is crafted with threads of silk that have a metallic mounting of gilded silver or gold. The wire is faintly twisted and flattened around the silk thread.

In the royal period, Kimkhwaab was usually adorned with gold or silver threads and further carried a constellation of gemstones that made the fabric heavy and regal. Slowly, with time, craftsmen retired to simpler versions of Kimkhwaab.


Find out more by clicking on the following slides

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    Grading the Kimkhwaab
    Kimkhwaab and its cost varies depending on the smoothness of the thread work and its corresponding smoothness. The grading also depends on the number of Kalabattu threads repeated in a given space. The greater the thread repetitions, the better it is. Also, the reverse side of the cloth bears the brunt of the thread work and often ends up being rough. While roughness is a mark of Kimkhwaab, too much of it would only mean that the craftsmen haven’t put their best on the fabric.
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    Kimkhwaab Today.
    Kimkhwaab and its glowing existence continues to live through its craftsmen. The fabric is now a favourite for bridalwear and is used extensively on lehengas, ghararas and sherwanis. Considering its weight, designers have refrained from making saris from Kimkhwaab. They have instead used Kimkhwaab to adorn the borders of saris or to create stunning details on blouses.
    Do you own this fabric? Tell us about it in the comment section