The arts and crafts of Jammu and Kashmir has recognition all over the world and everyone in the state is affiliated to this occupation in one way or another and is the major economic sector of the state. Crafts in the state vary from the embroidery to shawl weaving, wood carving to paper machie, carpet weaving to namda weaving and much more. Plan a tour to this state and have a glimpse of the rich heritage of arts and crafts in Kashmir, that has passed on from one generations to another and it is sure that it will be the best exploration tour to know the artistic traditions from the veteran artisans in the valley
In the valley of Kashmir Shawls have a very prestigious position and these shawls may vary in the quality. The shawls may be defined in three categories Woolen, Pashmina and Shahtoosh. The raffle shawls are most cheaper and coarse in texture as compare to the Pashmina shawls. Cost of these shawls exclusively depend on the quality of the shawl and the stitch work has done on it. Most expensive shawl is Shahtoosh also known as ring shawl as it can literally pass through the ring and its material is known for the softness, lightness and warmth. But the shawl is no more in trade because of being banned by the Government. There are various types of embroidery on these shawls, the stitch work and sozni work are very common, paper mach work is another type of embroidery done on the the panel along the sides of the shawl and some times on the entire shawl. Embroidery is usually done with the usage of three colors and some time two colors also work. Aari or Hook work is another type of embroidery work.
The pashmina shawl woven with an embroidery pattern by using the dyed thread and warp. And artisans very expertly make the peculiar designs on these shawls depicting the nature like birds and trees, architectural designs or mythological figures and sometimes embroidery is done with such a mastery that both the sides of the shawl look same, this shawl is known as Jamawar and ranges in lack of rupees.
From all over the world the demand for the Kashmiri carpets has increased astronomically. Reason is very simple Kashmir is known for the pure silken carpets that too knotted, knots denote the durability of the carpets and knots per inch is is the easiest modes of durability measurement. The base of the carpets are usually made of cotton and if you are looking for a carpet with the silken base then it is to be sure that prices will increase as well. These Kashmiri shawls are hand woven and there is particular language that denotes the design to be carried out on the carpet.
The art of weaving carpet has arrived to Kashmir at the time of Sultan Zainul Abidin from the Persia and it is one reason the design from Persia dominate the carpet designs with a very little variation from the natives. Plan a tour to this state and witness the art of weaving carpets and if possible own one and it will be your life's most prized possession.
The wood carving is done only on the walnut wood and is available only in Kashmir. The wood carving and fret work are with different depth levels. Deep carving is 2 or more inches deep and the popular motifs are dragon or lotus flower. Second comes the Shallow carving and is usually half inch or more deep, done on the entire flat surface, open or lattice work depicting the chinar motifs. Finally their comes the semi carving done on the thin panel along rim of surface containing the center motif.
If you are in the city visit one of the shops where wood carving is done and they will tell you that the best part of the walnut tree is root, its color is dark and grains are pronounced well, the color faints at trunk and branches have the lightest color and is the most inferior in quality. And deep carving is the costliest because it consumes more labor and time. A decorative of wood carving will be the best souvenir, you can take back home.
Paper mache is the most famous handicraft of Kashmir and is mostly exported to the European countries. The process of making paper mache begin with the soaking paper until it disintegrates then the whole paper is pounded to fine pulp and added with the adhesive. The material is shaped over molds and given particular shapes and left to dry. These molds are then painted black that is the base color and left to dry again. Latter Motifs are designed in gold or silver colors. Bed lamps, pen boxes, decorative are the common paper mache items made, it is worth to visit the household who are involved in the occupation and observe the process of making and coloring these items very minutely.
Chain Stitch and Crewel Work
Chain stitch or crewel work is essentially done by hook or ari no matter what the fabric of cloth is, it may be wool, cotton or silk but the crewel work on the white cotton cloth is much in demand in the rest of the world. Crewel works is also executed on curtains, rugs, wall hangings and is considered as one of the finest quality of embroidery work in Valley. On a visit to Kashmir you will find that most houseboats and hotels have the curtains of crewel work and it looks fascinating.
Willow Works or Wickerwork
The art of making baskets with the willow is the famous handicraft in valley and especially in the Hazratbal area of Srinagar city. The willow that profusely grows in the lakes and marshy land is dried and many beautiful things are made up of it. Visit any willow shop and you will find lamp shades, baskets, tables and chairs and many other objects for sale and at a very cheap price.
You can come to this state to shop for the world famous silk produced from the high quality cocoon reared in Kashmir. The yarn of this fiber is very thin and of extremely high quality. You can shop for the embroidered silken shawls suits and saris. Copper and silverware are other things that have achieved applause's all over the world, own a small copper samovar and it will be the best reminder of your tour to Kashmir. Pheran made of cotton or wool with a beautiful embroidery on its upper front portion, neck and hem line is the best gift, you can give to your mom or friends in your country. So come to this country and experience the work of Kashmiri artisans to explore the world's handicrafts market with their captivating products of wood carving, paper mache, embroidery, carpets, shawls, etc and to carry on their ancient traditions of exquisite art work.