Kashmir Handicrafts

 


Kashmir's handicrafts are an exquisite expression of the refined skill and talent of her artisans. The beautifully embroidered shawls and rugs, intricately carved furniture, painstakingly knotted carpets and attractive papier maché products are a tourist's delight, and Kashmir's pride.

Kashmiri carpets are world renowned, and perhaps the most popular of Kashmir's handicrafts. Originally from Persia, the art of making the knotted carpet that Kashmir is famous for, was patronized by Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin. In the 15 th century, he brought weavers from Persia, to train the local Kashmiri inhabitants.

These carpets are knotted by hand, on a loom with two horizontal beams across which the threads are stretched. The Farsi baff and Sinneh knots are the most popular. To thread these knots, a wood or metal comb is used. The quality and price of a Kashmiri carpet depends on the density of knots. Most Kashmiri carpets have between 200 and 900 knots per square inch. Carpets with 3600 knots per square inch have also been created by Kashmir's talented craftsmen; but these are extremely rare.

The most popular motif is the tree of life.

The Kashmiri shawl is of superior quality, soft, warm and charmingly embroidered. It is made of three types of wool: Shahtoosh which comes from a rare Tibetan antelope, and is considered the king of wool, the Pashmina which comes from the Capra Hircus goat, and the Raffal which is spun out of marino wool.

The Kashmiri shawls are made using two techniques: they are either loom woven (kani ) or needle embroidered ( sozni ).

The most common patterns are floral.

Another famous Kashmiri handicraft is the crewel embroidered product . This kind of embroidery is essentially rows of chain stitch done with a hook (called aurah ), on thick material such as drapery and upholstery. Floral and creeper designs are very popular.

The Namdha rug , is one such Kashmiri handicraft that is decorated with crewel embroidery. These rugs are made of unspun wool or wool and cotton, and are pressed and felted in specific proportions. They are originally from Yarkand, Xinjiang, China. The embroidered patterns are bold and bright.

Chain stitch rugs called Jalakdozi are also famous Kashmiri handicrafts. These are made on hessain or handmade cotton cloth. The yarn used is either silk or woolen. Floral, animal and human designs are popular.

Kashmir's walnut wood-work is the manifestation of elegant and intricate craftsmanship. Walnut wood is hard and durable, and its texture is even and close-grain. This enables the artisan to carve very fine designs. Of these patterns, floral and dragon designs are the most common. Carved furniture is the most famous of this Kashmiri handicraft, but bowls, trays, cigarette boxes, wall plaques, table lamps, screens and bedsteads are other popular items.

In an elaboration of the handicrafts from Kashmir, papier maché cannot be neglected. The art of papier maché involves layering paper pulp on a mould. It is then allowed to set, after which it is decorated. The colors used for decoration are made by diluting pigments in water with a little glue. Mineral, vegetable and organic colors are used. The final object is coated with varnish to give it shine and to protect it.

Mughal pictures, mythological figures, scenes of hunting and battle, and floral patterns are the most popular.

Basketry is another famous Kashmiri handicraft. Willow rushes that grow in abundance in lakes and marshes, are used to make attractive shopping baskets, lampshades, tables and chairs.



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