Kashmir, the state of India is acountry of rich and diverse tradition, beauty, nature, festivals, colors,fragrances, languages and religions, therefore Kashmiri traditional handicraftspromises everything - beauty, dignity, form and style. The majestic appeal ofKashmiri arts and crafts lies in its exclusivity and mystical tone which leavespeople mesmerized.

Shawls:  Pashmina is one of the world's most luxurious natural fibers, derived from a rare Central Asian mountain goat.Nomads living in the rugged and remote Himalayan mountains tend to the goats.Only those goats found about 14,000 ft. where high speed winds and freezingtemperatures exist, possess a special undercoat of "pashm." Otherlong, coarse hairs envelop the goat and conserve the delicateness of theanimal's underfleece. It is this wool (pashm) which serves to make the shawls,refered to as Pashmina after being woven.

Kashmir is the only place inthe world where fine embroidered Pashmina Shawls have been woven, like Shahtoosh and Jamavar. Pashmina Shawls are hand-embroidered in Kashmir. Kashmirlies in the Valley of the Himalayas, surrounded by the highest mountains in theworld. Kashmir was one of the important trade routes between east and west. Although it has a long history of political upheavals, the people of Kashmir have kept the art of shawl-weaving as one of their best forms of artistictalent.

Shawls have been wornand used as a warm protective garment by kings and queens since ancient times.However, the Mughal emperor Akbar experimented with various styles andencouraged weavers to try new motifs, which helped establish a successful shawlindustry. The shawl, or shoulder mantle, has been in existence in India in avariety of forms since ancient times, serving the rich and poor as a protectivegarment against the biting cold.


Three brains combine to produce this work of art. First comes the designer, whoreceives a couple of shillings for his trouble; next the copier, who preparesthe pattern for use in the workshop, and last of all, the weaver. Of these, these cond is regarded as most skilled and receives five times the remuneration bestowed on the originalartist. The weaver actually possesses no copy of the design except in this notation.The manuscript of a melody lies in front of him, and from this he weaves the pattern that we see. A Kashmiri loom is really a little orchestra, and eachshawl a symphony of colours, the men as they work chanting the stitches in monotonousplain-song. The connection between colour and sound is fundamental in Indianart-fabrics--though the point has never been investigated so far as we know--and furnishes the key to that power of combining and harmonising in which they are supreme.

Walnut Wood Carving:  The walnut wood carving of Kashmir employs aprocess of hand carving done very carefully and delicately in various styles bymeans of varied tools, fabricated locally depicting forms and motifs that haveevolved over a period of centuries.

The process is representative of local tradition of carving, evolved from stone and transmitted later on through the medium of wood representing various facets ofcarving; from flat to deep relief that employs a subtle three-dimensional effect.


The carvingemploys a host of motifs that depict the varied flora and fauna of the regionin a highly stylized manner also reflective of other associated Kash     miri handicrafts.

The desired effect and craftsmanship is achieved by the master craftsman (wasta or naqash) through calculated measured strokes for chipping, carving and rounding of the surface.The entire process is highly representative of the art of stone sculpture (shilpi) though on a more miniaturized scale.


The Kashmiri walnut wood craftsman rejoices in carving intricate and varied designs based onlively natural forms. Thus elaborate and intricate carvings form the essentialsof what is termed as good quality wood carving. This tendency or ratherfascination for detail seems to have developed in the latter part of the 19thCentury under European influences when the bold and effective woodcarving of yesteryearswas replaced by a highly intricate process of undercutting in the 19th Century.


In today’scontemporary market, Kashmiri walnut woodcarving is recognizable because ofcolour and tone of the material (walnut) and its combination with local craftsmanshipdepicting certain established motifs in a highly intricate and miniaturizedform in the traditional established styles. The Kashmir walnut woodcarving ispracticed in the five main styles:


a) Undercut (Khokerdar): This type of carving is highly reflective oftraditional stone carving involved in the making of sculptures. This carvingusually comprises multi-layers that can exceed upto seven (satnarey). Theoverall effect tends towards three-dimensional depiction of various motifs.Edges tend to be rounded off. Straight, sharp edges are usually avoided. Thistype of carving is usually carried out in panels and is a favorite with manyestablished craftsmen (wastas). The scenes mostly depicted are complex arrangements generally associated with jungle kaam.


b) Open or Lattice Work (Jallidahr, Shabokdhar): This type of carving is a favoritewith artisans working in screens and employs beautiful see through Jalli work.Chinar leave motifs are also employed especially in items of furniture like theback of chair. These works is also known as cut work or see through.


c) Deep Carving (Vaboraveth): This work is also known as raised work and the designsmostly employed in this form of carving comprises dragon or lotus motif.


d) Semi Carving or Engraved Carving (Padri): Usually this type of work comprisesthin panels along the rim of the surface with perhaps a central motif.


e) Shallow or Plain Carving (Sadikaam) This type ofcarving is normally employed all over a flat surface.


The Kashmiri walnut woodcarving is largely devoid of geometrical patterns which arebasically associated with khatamband (fir wood ceilings) and pinjarikari (wooden lattice work screens). The walnut wood carving industry is one of thefew traditional crafts of Kashmir that is totally devoid of any women participation, in any of the phases or stages of production. The manufacturing of walnut wood carved goods has evolved into a highly evolved craft withstreamlined stages of production. The walnut wood products involve the manufacture of a variety of articles both decorative as well as utilitarian,ranging from furniture items to pure bowls, spoons, forks, panels etc. Though the industry is, to a large extent, limited to production of items that werebeing made in the last century; yet it still commands a highly profitable market.


Walnut wood carving is limited within the Muslim Community of Kashmir and is largely practiced in Srinagar city.

Silk Carpets: There are numerous hand knottedwoolen carpet producing centers in India but traditional hand knotted silkcarpets in India can only be found in Kashmir. The origins of the traditionalsilk carpets of Kashmir can be traced to the Mughal period.


Handknotted pure silk carpets are world famous for their softness andcraftsmanship. These carpets are very expensive due to their being laborintensive and it takes a couple of at least one year to create a good silkcarpet. The process of creating a hand knotted silk carpet is lengthy and a lotof preparation has to be made by the craftsman before weaving the carpet. Theyarn used determines the type of the carpet to be created. Woolen carpets arealways created on a cotton base with woolen yarn. Silk yarn is sometimes usedin woolen carpets as highlights on certain designs and motifs.


On theother hand silk carpets are those carpets, which are created on a silk pile.Silk carpets are also created on a cotton or woolen pile. Generally silkcarpets are made up of 80% of silk yarn and 20% of cotton yarn. These carpetshave more than 400 knots per square inch. 100% pure silk carpets have very highknotage per inch. The knots per square inch of such carpet can range between 400-1600knots per square inch. This high percentage of knottage insures the life anddurability of these carpets.


Thecraftsmen in Kashmir follow the traditional Persian \ Islamic designs ofKirman, Kashan, and lsfahan, Herat etc. Though there is a strong Persianinfluence in Kashmiri carpets, yet one can also see local variations.


Themost recurring motif that is found on silk carpets from Kashmir is thedepiction of the tree of life, in all its glory. The natural beauty of Kashmirand its picturesque views have inspired the carpet weavers. Other popularthemes are: hunting scenes, bird and animal motifs and historic themes. Thesecarpets come in a variety of colors and designs.


Carpetsfrom Kashmir are subtle in comparison with the carpets produced from otherparts of the country. It is because carpets made in Kashmir are made with yarndyed with mineral colors, as vegetable dyes are not used at all. Hues of red,blue and yellow color are mainly used.

Papier Mache:  Atfirst glance, all papier mache objects look roughly the same, but there is aprice differential which depends on the quality of the product. However,besides at least three different grades of papeier mache, some are actuallycardboard or wood! The idea, however, is not to hoodwink the unwary, but toprovide a cheaper product with the look of papier mache.

To make papier mache first paper issoaked in water till it disintegrates. It is then pounded, mixed with anadhesive solution, shaped over moulds, and allowed to dry and set before beingprinted and varnished. Paper that has been pounded to pulp has the smoothestfinish in the final product. When the pounding has not been so thorough, thefinish is less smooth.

The designs painted on objects of papier mache are brightly coloured. They vary in artistry and the choice ofcolours, and it is not difficult to tell a mediocre piece from an excellentone. Gold is used on most objects, either as the only colour, or as a highlightfor certain motifs. Besides the finish of the product, it is the quality ofgold used which determines the price. Pure gold leaf, which has an unmistakablelustre, is far more expensive than bronze dust or gold poster paint. Varnish,which is applied to the finished product, imparts a high gloss and smoothness,and increases with every coat applied.

Papier Machie is one of the mostpopular of crafts practised in Kashmir. The tradition of the Kashmir PapierMachie has its origin rooted in the 15th century when king Zain-ul-Abidininvited accomplished artists and craftsmen from Central Asia.
A French term so commonly adopted in East and West and meaning "mashedpaper" papier machine is in fact a unique combination of line and colouron moulded forms of a variety of objects. It involves ornamentation in colourover smoothened surfaces built up of paper pulp or layers of paper. Paper pulpis not always found effective and is some times replaced by other substitutes.

The colours painted on object aremade from pigments diluted in water to which some glue is added to fix theground on which it is used. The three categories of colours are -- mineral(both actual and artificial) organic (both plants insects etc.) Vegetables. Thefinal objects papier machie is given one or two coats of varnish which besidesgiving it shine serves as a protective agent.


Important designs and motifs in papier machie designs are: 
Gulander Gul (flower in flower) Hazara (the thousand flowers) Gul Vilayat (thedear flower) Miniature Mugal paints Mythological figures Animals Hunting scenesBattle Scenes The product range covers ring boxes, pill boxes, boxes ofassorted shapes and sizes, flower vases, wall plaques, bowls, ashtrays, screensetc.

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