Srinagar- Artisans have contributed greatly in shaping the global identity of the valley. With an increasingly homogenized spectrum of the present day world, it is these disciplines that help the region retain its cultural identity. It is an undeniable fact that a plethora of rich and colorful art traditions have made Kashmir stand apart from the rest.
Considering such unique features of the crafts and arts, it augurs well that the Department of Handicrafts & Handloom Kashmir unremittingly works towards not just sustaining these art traditions but further build upon them. Conducting the Craft Safaris is a mechanism created to bring into limelight otherwise unfamiliar artisans so that they receive the appreciation directly from craft lovers across the globe.
The team of the officers from the Handicrafts and Handloom Department besides Intellectuals, Academic Scholars, Journalists, Tour Operators, Students and players from other fields treaded their way through the narrow alleyways of Amda Kadal, during the latest ie 8th edition of Srinagar Craft Safari. Stories of workmanship followed the onlookers in the lanes of Amda Kadal and each artisan proved to be a storehouse of generations’ worth of craft heritage.
Craft Safari commenced while appreciating the hard work of Ghulam Rasool Khan who has been conferred the Padma Shri award in addition to the many other honours at the state and national level. His enthusiasm, patience, and knowledge of the colours and designs has enabled him to bring out the extraordinary work into his Jamavars. The prime attraction amongst his artistic creations is a matchless Jamavar shawl made up using 360 individual Jamwar cutouts of different colours and shades to give it a pattern.
The team next stopped at Mohammad Shafi Tinda’s workshop of carpet weaving which has a history of carpet weaving for the past two hundred years. The Master craftsman M.S.Tinda has created sophisticated designs in the carpet that are full of gorgeous patterns and vibrant colours. He imbues his carpets with an intimate style, as well as warmth, beauty, and most importantly, individuality, as well as a touch of the golden hand that a specialist artisan is famous for.
Next o was the artisan namely Zamrooda Ali who is a master artisan from Badamwari, Hawal. Zamrooda has been actively involved in the craft and has been operating a Training Centre out of her home. She has been designing elaborate and unique patterns for quite some time now, providing a sense of originality to the special hand-made customizable designs in crewel embroidered artefacts that are sold all over the world. The team appreciated her efforts of employing approximately thirty women on a part-time basis in her business.
The team next stopped by the house of Kulsuma who has learned how to spin from her mother and has been doing it for a long time, despite having access to a variety of easy options to work with equipment, she still prefers the traditional hand-woven technique of weaving a piece of Pashmina which sums up her story of hard labour and determination.
In the work place of Riyaz Ahmad Khan, the team witnessed the most exquisite engraved copper utensils, such as bowls, samovars, and Tash-naers. He has come up with unique engraving designs and skills that he has honed over the course of more than four decades. He at present employs five people at his workshop.
Belonging to a family associated with the craft from last more than 120 years, Mushtaq Ahmad Khan who has been an accomplished weaver and designer of Kani Shawls was the last attraction for today’s Safari. Khan has been honoured at state and national level for his achievements. Throughout his career, he has been teaching younger people the craft . Appreciative of his expertise, the artisan was also deputed to Thailand by the Ministry of Textile for live demonstration of Kani weaving and designing.
Since the Srinagar city being listed in the UNESCO creative city network in the field of Craft and Folk Art authorities have expedited their commitment to work on the revival of the heritage and culture of the Srinagar city as well as the Kashmir division in totality. The department is working tirelessly for labelling of handmade products to strengthen the handmade craft artisans and crafts.