Kashmir is the best paradise on earth. The place is a fertile land that weaves various cultures and artwork. Since various dynasties influence the place, the land leaves an indelible impression due to their varied art and design. The influence of Shahmiri Sikhs, Mughals, Dogra, etc., is easily visible in the varied art, culture, and tradition.
These dynasties came from different regions and locations that helped blend various ubiquitous artwork. The results can be found in the smallest items like Kashmiri knobs to elaborate chinar leaves.
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The handicrafts tradition of the region is ages old. The same rose beyond the means of sustenance to a true heritage collectible. Regions like Srinagar, Ganderbal, Budgam, etc., are quite famous for their offerings. The orders for intricate textile crafts, metal decor items, leather crafts, etc., came in huge demand even when the state was a royal city.
The great Shah of Shah Mir dynasty - Zain ul-Abidin, also called Budh Shah, has brought a major revolution to the art world. He was a great art lover and a passionate ruler. He was deeply influenced by Hindu, Persian, and Muslim handicrafts.
He brought artisans from Persia, Iran, and other nations to help local artisans learn such international crafts. Due to his farsighted attention and generosity, art forms like paper mache, Khatam band, shawl weaving, carpeting, etc., can make a lasting mark on all. Kashida Embroidery is a varied and interesting pattern duplicated on shawls and saris. Patterns like chain stitch can be used on bags, screens, and covers. Similarly, floor coverings like Namdas, Gabbas, etc., are a true piece of Kashmiri traditional crafts. These show the distinct style, patterns, creative style of the region. Intricate detailing, designs, applique, embroidery, crochet, etc., to leave an indelible mark on the tourists.
Thus, these heritage crafting techniques have managed to make their mark and survive the wave of modernization. These crafts are exquisite and intricate.
Jammu and Kashmir boast a rich heritage of traditional art and crafts and have been a haven for nature and cultural arts. International tourists flock to the region to witness art and crafts from the state. The stunning scenery and natural aspects have influenced the region and its residents, and a special glimpse can be seen in the traditional arts and crafts. The utensils, clothes, furniture, furnishings, and jewels all stand testimonials to the area's beauty. The master craftsmen bestow their skills into locally available products and deliver breathtaking crafts that mesmerize all.
Here is the list of traditional Kashmiri art and craft techniques unique and special to the region. These crafts speak volumes about the rich tradition, art, culture, etc. These make them one of the best handicrafts in the region, and these include the following points -
• Tila Sozi
• Crewel crafts
• Chain stitch
• Carpet weaving
• Namda weaving
• Phool Kari
• Walnut carving
• Paper mache
• Basohli miniature painting
• Silk work
• Sozini work
• Ladakhi rugs
Kashmir produces earthenware that is designed from clay and a polished finish. The common home decor products in this style include - hookah base, etc. It is followed by attractive tableware and serveware labelled as DalGate Pottery.
Samovars are special forms of Kashmiri tea makers inspired by Persian crafts. It is one of the most sought-after copper crafts in the region. Since copper was mined for a long time in the nearby mountains of the Aishmuqam area of Liddar Valley, the mastery of such crafts is incomparable. Craftsmen of the region also express their creativity and talent in the form of natural elements, textures, vines, etc., carved on bronze.
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One of the most excellent crafts of Kashmir is its woodworking skills. Wood has been used for a long time in making houses in the region and monuments. These were later combined to create wooden ceilings, doors, facades, cornices, etc. The trend for creating large worship buildings made from wood originated in the Sultanate era. Sultan Shah also built himself a palace made entirely of wood in Naushehra. It has twelve stories, fifty rooms, wooden decorations, rich halls, and corridors.
Since walnut wood is available in abundance in the region, it is decorated using ornamental techniques to develop delicate home decor items. These are unique to the region and are called Doon Kul, harvested when the tree reaches above 300 years of age! Subsequently, these items have a great texture, durability, and detail.
The craftsmen also develop visually appealing and mesmerizing effects on the goods. Thus, you can easily find elements of local scenes interwoven with elements like roses, lotus, grapes, pears, chinar leaf patterns, iris, etc. Similarly, dragon motifs, Kani designs, patterns inspired by woolen carpets also find woodwork. As a result, you get to invest in products with deep relief carvings.
The naqqash first etches the patterns on the wood and then removes unwanted areas using chisels or mallets to get the best design. As a result, the lustrous walnut wood emerges from the same. It gives an impression of embossed surfaces. Crafting such patterns on smaller decor items like Kashmiri knobs and furniture is a time-intensive task and requires extensive craftsmanship. A single piece takes around six months to complete. The products are a bit expensive than normal offerings in the local market.
• Undercut or Khokerdar has multiple layers that can reach out seven. The overall effect is three-dimensional. One gets to see patterns from jungles, layers of flora, interwoven branches, rabbits, bushes, and flying birds.
• Latticework or Jalidar - This crafting technique employs see-through patterns placed on Jali. Chinar leaf motifs, Mogul patterns, etc., are commonly used in this technique.
• Deep carvings or Vaboraveth - This is called raised work, and designs, in this case, have special patterns inspired by mystical elements like dragons, etc. These have a depth of above 5 inches.
• Semi-carvings or Padri - This type of work has thin panels placed on the rim of the surface using a central motif or pattern.
• Shallow carving or Sadikaam - In this case, the scenes are chased along the lines using a pencil to gain depth.
Kashmiri shawls, pashmina scarf, embroidery designs, etc. Capture the attention of international tourists. One gets to choose from Shahtoosh, Jamawar, etc. The technique has immense dexterity, with special designs like do-rukhsa available in varied combinations.
Similarly, the pashmina or Kashmiri Pashm is one of the finest soft wool available. The wool is derived from mountain goats.
Silk products and upholstery are evergreen favourites of the home. The designs appear similar to the woolen carpets like -
The Kari Kamandari, also called papier-mache, is a special craft technique that uses a silken surface. Motifs like chinar leaf, iris, roses, tulips, water hyacinth, arabesque, etc., are designed with great care and attention. This technique gives an elegant design that is stunning and bespoke. Similarly, papier-mache art is also available as Kashmiri art paintings with brilliant brushes works.
In Kashmir, leather crafts - handbags, bags, etc. are in high demand. Leather crafts feature articles with heavy embroidery designs and detailing, making them exclusive items.
- The region is also famous for its unique silver and gold jewellery items. One can buy beautiful Dogri designs, elaborate Kashmiri bridal accessories, jewellery worn by nomadic tribes called Bakar wala.
- Tibetan carpets with regal designs are also in huge demand. These are reasonably priced and durable. Similarly, you can choose from Persian, Kashmiri carpets, etc.
- There are special forms of tea vessels, silver cups, mussel shells, churns, etc.
- There is a wide variety of art and crafts to be procured from the region. Srinagar, Ganderbal, etc., are prime contributors to these crafts.