Kashmir Creatives

From walnut wood carving Pashmina weaving, the Valley has rich heritage of crafts. Supriya takes you on a design tour

I peered into the still puddle of water. The mud had settled at the bottom, its mirror-flat surface reflecting the derelict building, weathered after the 2014 deluge. The rains had made the Jhelum overflow and filled up the Government Silk Weaving Factory close by, submerging the machines, the thread cones and fabric reams. But this was then.

01When I visited Srinagar a few months ago, I was expecting the factory to be stripped of activity, but made my way into the large, high-roofed workshop nonetheless. The melancholia hung heavy in the hall, but breaking the silence was the rhythmic “clickety clack” of machines in resilient motion. I followed the sound, and there, in one corner of the shed, under the glow of naked bulbs, I came upon two weavers hunched over glistening silk threads, undisturned by the flash of my camera. The sounds of the spinning, dyeing and cleaning of silk threads emanated unabated from the other halls. The devastating floods had done nothing to dampen the spirit of Kashmir – and least of all, its heritage, manifest in the glorious silk weaves Kashmir is so famous for.

01Over the next few days I made my way to the craft hubs around Srinagar. Even though the Valley hasn’t seen a robust population of buyers over the past few years, the Kashmiri people haven’t given up on their rich cultural heritage. Since most of the crafts are byproducts of the agro- and livestock-oriented lifestyle in Kashmir, carved walnut wood and Pashmina shawls are two of their mainstays. Another reason craft flourished in the state is Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani, a mystic who arrived from Persia in the 14th century. Locals reverentially called him Shah-e-Hamadan, as he trained a number of craftsmen in the skill of making Pashmina shawls, papier mâchè curios and walnut-wood carvings, all of which could be done from inside Kashmir’s warm homes in its long winter months.

Hence, practicality and an abundant sourcing base gave birth to Kashmir’s crafts. In the study of Kashmir’s craft trail, Srinagar’s old town seemed like a natural first stop – the best place to see the art of khatambandh, the art of ceiling making that involves piecing together small plates of wood in geometrical patterns – which were once extensively used in shrines, palaces and houseboats, but have now dwindled to only old mosques and shops. Apart from the intricate relief details and the many months it takes for a small panel to be constructed, what’s fascinating about the art is that the wood panels can be dismantled and moved anywhere else. However, less than 700 craftsmen in Kashmir are now engaged in this art.

01The Pashmina cashmere shawls (below) are made from the wool of the Changthangi

Alternatively, the walnut wood carvers of Srinagar have created a niche for themselves. Commanding a high price for their ware and sticking to the intricate 19th-century designs, the artisans are a coveted lot. The khokerdar (undercut) is one of the more complicated styles involving the carving of threedimensional motifs, sometimes as intricate as seven layers. Others such as jallidabr (latticework), vaboraveth (deep carving), padri (engraved) and sadikaam (shallow carving) are less time-consuming. But it is the motifs that contribute to the timelessness of the art. Ranging from flowers and fruit-laden trees to scenes from the royal court, the stunning designs hark back to an era of splendour and grandeur. But no account of Kashmir’s crafts is complete without mention of its papier mâchè curios – think bowls, coasters, candle holders and photo frames.

The pulping of waste paper, sakhtsazi (making the products) and naqashi (painting the motifs) are all done by hand. Another indispensable product is the Pashmina shawl. The metamorphosis of coarse wool to fine fabric is a fascinating one. Cleaned, combed and spun on a wheel, the fine yarns are dyed in different colours and then taken to the looms where it can take months to finish a single design. So next time you are there, go on a tour of Kashmir’s craft heritage

d’ehj dh dkjhxjh

tc dqN eghus igys Jhuxj xbZ rks eq>s vk’kk Fkh fd Q+SDVªh esa fdlh Hkh izdkj dh xfrfof/k;ka ugha py jgh gksaxhA fdarq eSa ikuh esa ls gksdj Q+SDVªh dh cM+h ,oa Åaph Nr ij cuh odZ’kkWi rd igqaphA gkWy esa cksf>y mnklh iljh gqbZ Fkh fdarq cqukbZ dh e’khuksa dh ^[kV [kV* dh laxhre; /ofu ogka dh [kkeks’kh dks Hkax djus dk dke dj jgh FkhA eSa ml vkokt+ dh vksj py iM+h FkhA ogka tkdj ns[kk] ml cM+s ls ’ksM ds ,d dksus esa cYcksa dh jks’kuh ds uhps nks cqudj eqpM+s gq, diM+s ij >qds gq, cSBs pedhys js’keh /kkxs ls d<+kbZ dj jgs FksA esjs }kjk dSejs ls Q+ksVks [khapus ij Hkh mudk /;ku Hkax ugha gqvk FkkA Q+SDVªh ds dqN vU; gkWyksa esa ls eq>s drkbZ] MkbZax ,oa Dyhfuax tSlh xfrfof/k;kas dh vkokt+sa vk jgh FkhaA d’ehj esa vkbZ ck<+ ls ogka ds yksxksa ds mRlkg ij dksbZ izHkko ugha iM+k Fkk] fo’ks”kdj mldh fojklr tks js’keh cqudjksa dh dkjhxjh esa O;kIr gS] ml ij bl vkink dk dksbZ izHkko ns[kus dks ugha feyk FkkA d’ehj blh dkjhxjh ds fy, gh yksdfiz; gSA

d’ehjh f’kYi ds ckjs esa foLrkj ls tkuus ds fy, iqjkuk Jhuxj ’kgj cs’kd gekjs fy, igyk iM+ko gh Fkk & [+kkrqEca/k dyk dk vkd”kZ.k ns[kus ds fy, ;g mi;qDr txg gSA Nr ltkus ds fy, bl f’kYi ds varxZr ydM+h ds vkM+s&frjNs NksVs VqdM+ksa ls laiw.kZ iSuy cuk;k tkrk gSA mlds ckn mls tfVy fMt+kbu esa fQ+V fd;k tkrk gSA ;g dyk dHkh efLt+nksa] egyksa ,oa gkmlcksV esa ns[kh tk ldrh Fkha fdarq vc ;g dyk dsoy efLt+nksa o nqdkuksa dh Nrksa ij ns[kh tk ldrh gSA ,d NksVk lk iSuy rS;kj djus esa dkjhxjksa dks eghuksa dM+h esgur djuh iM+rh gSA bl f’kYi dk vkd”kZd fgLlk ;g gS fd laiw.kZ iSuy dks ,d txg ls gVkdj nwljh txg ij vklkuh ls yxk;k tk

ldrk gSA gkykafd bu fnuksa [+kkrqEca/k dyk dk fuekZ.k djus esa 700 ls Hkh de dkjhxj dk;Zjr gSaA

oSdfYid lk/kuksa ds ckotwn v[+kjksV dh ydM+h ij dh tkus okyh uDdk’kh vkyk nt+sZ dh gSA Åaph dher ds pyrs ,oa 19oha lnh esa cuus okys fMt+kbu ij vk/kkfjr gksus ds ckotwn Jhuxj esa v[+kjksV dh ydM+h ij dh tkus okyh uDdk’kh vkyk nt+sZ dh gSA Lk`tu dh ikap izeq[k ’kSfy;ksa ij vk/kkfjr ,oa :ikaduksa dh fuf’pr la[;k ds dkj.k Jhuxj esa v[+kjksV dh ydM+h ij dh tkus okyh uDdk’kh vklkuh ls igpkuh tk ldrh gSA [+kksdsjnkj csgn tfVy ’kSyh gS ftlesa :ikaduksa dk rhu vk;keh fp=.k fd;k tkrk gSA dHkh&dHkkj lkr ijrksa esa uDdk’kh dh tkrh gSA ogha tkyhnkj] oscksjkosFk] iknjh ,oa lknhdke esa vis{kkd`r de le; yxrk gSA fdarq buesa cuk, tkus okys :ikadu csgn vkd”kZd gksrs gSaA f[+kys gq, Qwyksa ls ysdj Q+yksa ls yns isM+ksa dh vkd`fr;ka rd] ’kkgh njckjksa ds n`’;ksa ,oa ;q) ds vuks[ks fMt+kbu fdlh dks Hkh ea=eqX/k dj nsaxsA

dkxt+ dh yqxnh ls cuh gYdh oLrqvksa dk ftØ fd, fcuk d’ehjh gLrf’kYi v/kwjk gS & dVksjs] dksLVj] eksecŸkh j[kus ds LVSaM rFkk fiDpj Ýs+e ns[kus dks feyrs gSaA dkxt+ dh yqxnh ls l[+rlkt+h ¼mRiknksa dk fuekZ.k½ rFkk uDdk’kh ¼:ikaduksa dh jaxkbZ½ tSls dk;Z gkFk ls gh fd, tkrs gSaA vU; uk;kc mRikn i’ehuk ’kkWy gSA fdlh Hkh fo’kq) i’ehuk ’kkWy esa bLrseky gksus okyh dPph eksVh Åu ds eqyk;e i’ehuk ’kkWy esa cnyus dh izfØ;k vn~Hkqr gSA lkQ+] eqyk;e ,oa pØ ij drkbZ fd, gq, bl /kkxs dks fofHkUu jaxksa esa jaxk tkrk gSA mlds ckn mUgsa dj?ks ij p<+k;k tkrk gS tgka ,d csgrjhu ’kkWy esa tfVy fMt+kbu nsus esa eghus yx tkrs gSaA vr% vxyh ckj d’ehjh fojklr dh >yd vo’; ns[ksaA

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