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Information Digest
Volume 4
April 2003

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Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

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Lalla-Ded Educational Trust
Project Zaan
Information Digest - Vol. 4


Arts & Crafts

Kashmir is known throughout the world as much for its arts and crafts as for its scenic beauty. The products of unique craftsmanship have won the appreciation of connoiseurs from far and near. The articles range from woollen textiles of fleecy soft texture and matchless excellence in weaving, hand woven carpets of finest warp and weft, to the exquisite designs worked on papier-mache, wood work, silverware etc. The unique position among Kashmir textiles is held by the celebrated shawl. The shawl industry is as old as the hills. The Pashmina shawl is made from the smooth fleecy wool of the Kel goat and is highly priced. These shawls are generally woven with embroidered patterns. A high class shawl is expected to have designs worked out evenly on both sides. The celebrated 'ring Shawl' can actually pass through a ring. Rare and different from the others is Jamawar shawl. The peculiar ch.mp3 of this shawl is derived from the symphony of colour schemes depicting architectural and mythological figures interwoven with landscape designs. 

 Namda is a felt rug, made from beaten wool, which is then embroidered over. Fine embroidery makes the namda sometimes more attractive than a pile carpet.

 The gabba - a unique type of floor covering is prepared from old woolens in a variety of f.mp3s and designs. Rich blending of colours gives the old material a new appearance and makes it very attractive. It is used as divan-spreads, bedding material and even drawing room rugs.

 The carpet industry, introduced into the Valley by Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, is justly renowned. From the point of weaving, carpets are broadly divided into two classes: smooth-faced carpets and pile carpets. Pile carpets (Kalins) made in Kashmir since the Muslim rule attained great perfection. Worked with floral and other designs, the hand woven pile carpet became the national craft of Kashmir. During the British days, Iranian motifs were introduced, providing further impetus to the industry. Kashmiri carpet can match the Iranian or any foreign make, and is high on the export list of Kashmir.

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

 Kashmir's silverware compares favourably with that turned out by the most fashionable establishments in London and Paris. The range of silverware is very wide: tea sets, flower vases toilet sets, scent chests, picture frames, cigarette cases, tumblers etc. Both plain and engraved work is executed to cater to different tastes. Among the flora and fauna,, leaves of chinar and the lotus furnish the popular patterns. The Kashmiri artisan also produces excellent products of copperware, consisting mostly of cooking pots and samavars and sundry articles for the household or the mantlepiece. Enamelled silver-work is also pretty.

 Papier-mache craft, peculiar to Kashmir, was also introduced into the Valley by Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin. The products, beautifully painted over with ornamental patterns, comprise picture-frames, pen-cases, tea pots, writing sets, screens, candle-sticks, vases and other utility goods.

Walnut and chinar wood provides material for the wood-carving, which is among the best known cottage industries of Kashmir. The Kashmiri carver, second to none in the world in his skill as a designer, uses walnut wood, which is durable and has a rich natural-veined surface. Articles made of carved walnut wood include chairs, cots, cabinets, tables, jewellery boxes and ornamental caskets. Floral designs of almost every conceivable variety are made with great accuracy of detail in chased or raise work.

 Khatam-band is a speciality in Kashmir woodwork, and comprises ceiling of rooms, made from thin panels of pine wood, cut into geometrical designs. Builders of houseboats have kept this craft alive.

 Wicker-work of Kashmir is also notable. Lunch and flower baskets, chairs, tables and various other articles of common use are turned out in elegant designs. Kangri, an earthen bowl encased in wickerwork, is also made as an artefact ornamented with wicker rings and coloured mica for the mantlepiece. 

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Kashmiri Overseas Association, Inc. (KOA) is a 501c(3) non-profit, tax-exempt socio-cultural organization registered in Maryland, USA. Its purpose is to protect, preserve, and promote Kashmiri ethnic and socio-cultural heritage, to promote and celebrate festivals, and to provide financial assistance to the needy and deserving.

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