History of Crafts of Jammu and Kashmir
Handicrafts tradition of Jammu and Kashmir is ages old. The traditional art was initially a means of living for people of central Kashmir comprising of Srinagar, Ganderbal, and Budgam. Later on, the handcrafts tradition was adapted in the other parts of the region. The intricate textile craft, metal craft, and leather craft traces its origin from the period when it was ruled by the royals. The art has managed to survive the wave of modernization for its exquisite beauty and intricacy.
Embroidery of Kashmir
Kashmiris are known for a special type of embroidery called kasida. Varied and rich in colours, characterize the embroidery. The finest kasida work, those that are embroidered on shawls or saris has no ' wrong ' side. The chain stitch is also used for making a large number of articles like bags, screens and cushion covers.
Interesting floor coverings called namdas and gabbas are another piece of craft of Kashmir. They have their distinct style and are a reflection of the creativity of the Kashmiris. Intricate designs and embroidery, appliqués characterizes the namdas. On the appliqué, something like a crochet needle with a hooked end is used. Gabba is a rug, which is made from old woolens on which different cut forms are created with chain stitch. The edges and the field are covered with large embroidery and usually have bright designs on subtle background.
Earthenware of Kashmir
Kashmir produces earthenware, which are made of ordinary clay with a polish finish. A typical example of this type of earthenware is the hukka base, which is made in a variety of shapes. Attractive tableware is also produced from clay. These products are mainly sold along the side of the Dal Lake in Srinagar, which is popularly called the Dal gate pottery.
Shawls of Kashmir
Kashmiri Shawls rank first in the choice of woolen clothes in India. Shahtoosh and Jamawar are the best-known varieties of shawl that are woven in Kashmir. This craft requires immense dexterity and an eye for artistry. There are many shawls, which are woven on both sides called 'do ruksha'. The colour combinations are a treat for the eyes, which are complemented with superb embroidery.
Pashmina of Kashmir
The best quality of wool in Jammu and Kashmir is called Pashm. The fabric made from this uniquely soft and fine wool is called Pashmina. The wool is derived from an animal called Capra hircus, a mountain goat which is native to the region. Mainly shawls, stoles, overcoats, etc. are made from Pashm.
Siik carpets Kashmiri
Silk carpets of Jammu and Kashmir are a recent addition in the list of crafts. The designs of the silk carpets are similar to those of the woolen carpets. Tabriz, Kashan, Kirman, Bokhara, Qum and Hamdaan are among the silk carpets woven in Srinagar. The best silk carpets are a blend of traditional design with modern innovative ideas and colours.
Wood craft of Kashmir
In Kashmir, an exclusive item is the beautifully crafted wooden objects from walnut trees, which are expensive and rare item in the world of crafts. It mainly consists of furniture items such as wall hangings, jewellery boxes, screens, room dividers, fruit bowls, trays etc.
Papier-mache craft of Kashmir
The 'kari kamandari' or papier-mache as it is commonly called is done on a silken surface on which motifs such as chinar leaf, iris, rose, tulips, hyacinth and arabesques are painted with great elegance and delicacy. The best of Kashmir's papier-mache is a beautiful piece of art, which combines different shades of paintings with brilliant brush works.
Leather craft of Kashmir
In Kashmir the leather work is also renowned. Leather handbags are in huge demand and some of the finest embroidery goes on to make it an exclusive item in the closet.