Crafts of Jammu and Kashmir

 

 

Introduction

Many intellectuals call Kashmir a heaven on earth. It's called so not only for its sceninc beauty but for delicate arts and crafts too. The diverse articles ranging from woolen textiles of fleecy soft texture of matchless excellence in weaving, hand-woven carpets of finest warp and weft, to the exquisite designs worked on papier-mache, wood work, silverware, etc. are the products of unique craftsmanship.

Shawls

A unique position among Kashmir textiles is held by the celebrated shawl known as Pashimina shawl. The fabric of this shawl is extracted from the smooth fleecy wool of Kel goat by the handloom artisans who are usually womenfolk. Equally popular is the celebrated 'ring shawl'. The fabric of this particular shawl is so sleek and smooth that it can pass effortlessly through a ring and hence the name. Rare and different from the others is the Jamavar shawl. In this case, the threads of the warp and weft are dyed before weaving. The peculiar charm of this famous shawl is derived from the symphony of color schemes depicting architectural and mythological figures interwoven with landscape designs.

 

A high-class shawl is expected to have the designs worked evenly on both sides. The price of a pashmina shawl may range anywhere from a few hundred rupees to thousands of rupees, depending upon the craftsmanship and the time factor involved in its creation.

Carpets

The gabba- a unique type of floor covering, prepared from old woolens in a variety of forms and designs- come next to the namda industry, and its manufacture is localised at Anantnag (Islamabad). Baramulla specialises in printed gabbas.

The chain-stitch rung, which resembles the gabba carpet, is also manufactured economically, as the base is Hessian cloth and coarse wool, over which floral and other motifs are worked. The flora and fauna of different lands-Kashmir, Central Asia and Iran are depicted on the carpets of Kashmir in a harmony symbolic of traditional synthesis of Kashmir's diverse cults and cultures.

Embroidery

The embroidery of Kashmir, called kasida, is world-famous. Varied, rich in colour, elaborate in detail and exquisite in execution, the kasida patterns are freely drawn by the naqqash mostly from memory. The finest kasida work, particularly embroidered on shawls or saris, has no 'wrong' side.

The chain-stitch is also used for the making of a large number of miscellaneous articles such as bags, screens and cushion covers.


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