Masterpiece of the master – beautiful “Bouquet” (size 2, 30 m x 1, 68 m) embroidered in satin-stitch. Each flower embroidered separately at first and then skillfully assembled in bouquets. After assembling the bouquet fully embroidered, the master carefully worked out the details. Noteworthy, it took Shams Uddin 1000 hours to create Bouquet, and he did it for 11 years. Also, for the vase the craftsman used precious and semi-precious stones weighing a total of 20 karats.
Sheikh Shams Uddin was born on September 7, 1917 in Agra. He inherited the art of Zardozi Embroidery from his father Late Habib Buksh.
The works of Sheikh Shams Uddin are the highest samples of embroidery skill, for which the master repeatedly got awards. Unfortunately, Sheikh Shams Uddin, the pioneer of three-dimensional embroidery, passed away. Fortunately, his son and students of the Master continue his work. His artworks are now in the private gallery of jewelry store Kohinoor in Agra.
Shams has been a very highly honored artist. He was awarded the “Padma Shri” on 26th January, 1989 in recognition of his art. His first Exhibition of Art was visited by the first President of India late Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the then Vice President late Dr. Radhakrishnan, and the first Prime Minister, late Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1960. Shams embroidered the official Seal of the President of United States of America and presented it to President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, who gave his great admiration and appreciation in writing. In 1969 Shams was honored with National Award by the then President of India late Dr. Zakir Hussain for his great contribution to art. A very special honor was bestowed upon Shams in 1973 on the occasion of Silver Jubilee Celebration of Independence of India. He was honored with a special Award by Late Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India. During the Bicentenary of Independence of United States of America in 1976 Shams embroidered a portrait of the legendary President Abraham Lincoln and it was presented to the then President of U.S.A. President Gerald Ford in the White House, and the portrait is preserved in the National Museum in Washington D.C. The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles visited Agra in 1980. Shams felicitated the Prince at a civic reception and presented him with a Masterpiece of Art. Shams is the originator of this very unique Art of Embroidery in three dimensions. He makes free hand sketches of his subjects, then he embroiders them in cotton threads over and over till he gets the required thickness and movements. Finally he takes fiber from silk threads, twists them together in the shades required for and embroiders with them the particular piece. In the process he has been creating original unparalleled works of Art. It’s a hosanna to high art that took Sheikh Shamsuddin 14 years and finished the career of arguably the best zari embroiderer in recent times. Completing Moses, as the work is called, became such an obsession for the Agra master craftsman that he ignored warnings from his father Habib Buksh (who among other things, prepared a special dress for King George V and a coronation robe for Queen Alexandra during the Delhi Durbar 1901). “You have to finish what you start,” says the artist who come shows the prophet in front of the burning bush-a decade ago. The local legend’s work has recently gone public because of a 27-minute documentary detailing Shamsuddin’s zari art by director Shaji N. Karun (Piravi, Swaham), which embell- ishes the craftsman’s exquisite art with some delectable, of- ten poignant, camerawork. Sham’s Vision will be screened at next year’s national film festival. “I have never been moved as much by any other work of art,” says Karun about Moses. Meanwhile, Shamsuddin spends his time in the by-lanes of Agra’s old city, waiting for buyers for Moses (asking price: $3 million, almost ₹11 crore) and other lesser, though no less worthy, pieces like Noorjehan, a colorfully vase set with rare stones. Many drawings made by him be- fore he became blind are still used by son Shamsuddin sheikh on the family tradition, where eight craftsmen work a piece at the same time; it can take months to rework a part and even very minor work fetches ₹25,000. But sometimes money may not be everything. Shams talks about the vision of Moses he had and how he stuck to the work in spite of the “premonitions” he had about danger and Dedication.