Handicrafts of Kashmir
Kashmir valley is rich, not only in cultural and ethnic diversity but also in the myriad art and crafts, which nurtured through the centuries. By the passage of time, the art has gotten more and more diversified. These days Kashmir is quite popular for its textiles, like Pashmina Shawls, embroidered outfits, silk sari, papier mache, wood-carving, hand woven carpets and lots of traditional handicrafts.
Kashmiri carpets are popular for two reasons. These are purely hand made and secondly these are knotted, not tufted. Usually silk yarn or wool is used in these. Both woollen and silken carpets have cotton base. However in case of silken base the cost of the carpet increases proportionately. The colour combination is always eye-catching which makes the Kashmiri carpets a wonderful asset to possess. The carpet weaving skills originally came from Persia, that’s why most designs are inspired by Persia with localised variations.
Namda is colourful and attractive flooring rug. It’s made up of woollen and cotton fabric, which is manually processed into desired shape. Its price varies with the type of wool. Namda with more woollen stuff is expensive than that of containing lesser wool. The rug is embroidered with chain stitch on wool with cotton thread.
Papier Mache is an ancient art. There are three different stages of processing Papier Mache products.
First of all, soak a paper in the water until it gets disintegrated. Then pounded it and mix adhesive solution with it. Spread it over a mould and allow it to dry fully. After getting dry, a proper shape is given to make a product. Apply shinny paint or varnish on it and create artistic design on it with bright glittery colours.
Kashmiri Shawls are popular all over the world for their sleek quality and sophisticated look. Mainly three types of fibre are used for making the Kashmiri shawls, Wool, Pashmina and Shahtoosh.
Woollen shawls are cheaper while the Shahtoosh are the most expensive ones. However woollen shawls are speciality of Kashmir and famous for their embroidery designs. In fact embroidery and quality of wool, determines the prices.
Pashmina shawls have softer stuff. Their yarn is spun from the hair of the ibex, found on the height of 14,000 feet.
Shahtoosh is the legendary ‘ring shawl’, known for its lighter, soft and warm stuff.
Kashmiri crewel work is in great demand all over the world. This is different type of embroidery on a pre-shrunk white cotton fabric. The intrinsic worth of each piece is determined by the size of the stitches and the quality of yarn. Chain stitch is popular embroidery on wool, silk or cotton and often created by a hook rather than needle. This embroidery is decorated on wall hangings and rugs etc.
Tweed is woven pure and non-blended wool. The cocoon reared in Kashmir is of the superior quality. The fineness of this yarn speaks itself. This kind of silk is called as ‘chinon’ or ‘crepe de chine’.
Pheran is a coat or cloak like outfit. It is loose enough to place a Kangri (small basket with coals embers in it. It can be carried like a hot water bottle) Men’s Pheran is always made by tweed or coarse wool, while of women’s made by raffle with Ari or Hook embroidery on the neck, cuffs and edges. The quality of embroidery and thickness of the raffle determines the price.
In Kashmir, willow is commonly used in making different kinds of handicrafts such as baskets, lamp-shades, table and chair.
Wood of walnut tree is unique in colour, grains and inherent. Kashmiri artisans are famous for wood carving and fret work on the walnut wood. The design and creativity turns out outclass and superior in quality.
Copper and Silver Carving
Copper lining on the walls, floor and ceiling is quite popular handicrafts among the locals. Similarly household items like samovars, bowls, plates and trays are also decorated with floral, stylish geometric design, leafy and calligraphic motifs. This creativity is seen mainly on copper or silver and called as ‘naqash’.
Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan