(Last Updated on : 30-11-2015)
Art and crafts of Rajouri District is an integral part of the culture of the place. The region is rich in forest wealth and the climate is cold during winter months. The high reaches of Pir Panjal, dividing Kashmir and Rajouri valley, experience reasonable to heavy snow fall during winter months as a result of which during the winter months, when it is not feasible for the local people to earn their livelihood outside their residences, they prefer to dedicate their time to handicraft activities, so as to add-on their meager incomes. Due to the diversity of handicrafts, it is often called the mini Kashmir or the Kashmir of Jammu
region. Since the old Mughal road to Kashmir valley passes through the length of this district, the handicraft activities got a face off with the patronage of Mughal Emperors.
Embroidery, Blanket making, Namda and Gabba making, Chikri-wood carving, Tilla (Copper) work, basket making, etc. were the most important handicrafts of the former days. With the ushering of modern age, some of these handicrafts due to high cost of production as compared to the machine made articles have lost buyers as result of which the persons who were concerned in production of these articles have deserted manufacturing such items and have resorted to other activities of earning their source of revenue. But Embroidery, Blanket making, Namda, Gabba making, and Chikri wood crafts somehow still survive heavy odds.
Several handicraft centers have been opened by the Jammu and Kashmir
Government to educate local male and females of the district in diverse crafts like Embroidery, Namda, Gabba making and Ckikri wood carving. The Handicraft centres are imparting training in remote areas of this district. The skilled persons are encouraged by the Government to form cooperative Societies, which facilitate them to earn their livelihood. The State Government, to some extent, also provides market cover to them. Embroidery on bed sheets, Pillows, table covers, curtains, TV or Radio covers, sofa set covers, wall Hangings, napkins, etc. are well known in the district.
Namda Gabba Making is facing extinction since the local manufactures are poor and not in a situation to buy the raw material in adequate quantity so as to keep themselves busy during the winter months in particular and whole year in general. This fine craft of namda, gabba making requires Governments initiative for survival by providing raw materials and market facility through out the year, if possible at par with their Kashmiri counterparts. Blanket making is the old craft and it still continues on the same old line, without the introduction of the up to date technology. Chikri Wood Carving in the real terms is a live craft with a few complaints. The artisans occupied in this craft are for the most part located at Shahdara Sharief, Thannamandi and Budhal. These areas produce a lot of articles for household use as well as ornamental purpose. It could also help if the government provides exposure to all the leading Chikri Wood Craftsmen and help them in getting new designs of their carvings, which could have better national and international demands.