Kashmir is renowned for the vast variety of handicrafts that is produced here.it also houses some of the great artisans and artists who produce exquisite carpets, gold ornaments, embroidered shawls. Finely chiseled wood work of walnut and oak, silver ware, exquisitely colored and painted papier mache and garments are made of leather and fur.
Kashmiri Carpets (Kaalin)
The origin of hand knotted carpets locally known as “Kalbaffi” dates back to 15th century after which it progressively attained the high degree of perfection. Carpets from 200 knots to 900 knots/sq. inch both in wool & silk yarn have attained such excellence that they rank amongst the finest in the world.Carpets in 18×18, or 20×20 knots per sq. inch are commonly made in Kashmir. Some very fine silk carpets in different sizes have been created with density of knots as high as 3600 knots per sq. inch but these are rare Exhibits, of skill and mainly made for display or museum pieces. Kashmir also excels in manufacture of silk carpets. Designs and patterns in Kashmir carpets continue to be predominantly inspired by classical Persian and Central – Asia rugs
About Kashmir Shawls it is said “Of all Indian textiles none excels in beauty, colour, texture and design as the famous Kashmir Shawl”.Shawls are produced by two techniques, loom woven or kani shawls and the needle embroidered or soznishawls.The basic fabric is of the three types – Shah Tush, Pashmina and Raffal. Shah Tush (King of wool) passes through a ring and is also known as Ring shawl.
Carved walnut wood-work is among the most important crafts of Kashmir. Kashmir is now one of the few places in the world where walnut is still available at an altitude of 5500-7500 feet above see level. The wood is hard and durable, its close grain and even texture facilitating fine and detailed work. It also presents visually interesting effects with mere plain polished surfaces in fact in contemporary products, plain surfaces and small carvings are preferred, especially on trays, tables, bowls and similar items.
Papier Machie is one of the most popular of crafts practised in Kashmir.A French term so commonly adopted in East and West and meaning “mashed paper” papier machine is in fact a unique combination of line and colour on moulded forms of a variety of objects. It involves ornamentation in colour over smoothened surfaces built up of paper pulp or layers of paper. Paper pulp is not always found effective and is some times replaced by other substitutes.
Phool Kari – A traditional craft, recently revived, is Phoolkari, Bagh or Shaloo embroidered in the phoolkari style was an essential part of the bride’s trousers till only a few decades back. A craft with its origin in Punjab Phoolkari, as the very name suggests is a style of embroidery of floral designs. The present day designs, however, are by no means limited to flowers alone and include a variety of other patterns.
According to well known Dr. Herman Goltz, “Basali painting are among the great achievements of Indians”. Their central inspiration is vashnavism, the themes have been taken from the epics and the puranas.The different themes of the paintings are religious (Gita Govinda and Ramayana), secular, historical, contemporary and literary. Besides the paintings bring out extreme emotion combined with a lyrical sense of Basali landscape.Basali paintings are said to have been described as Poems in colours. The paintings are marked by strikingly blazing colours bold lines, rich symbols and peculiar features giving an accumulative impact of highly sensuous environs.
Calico Painting – Samba, a small town about 40 kms from Jammu, on Jammu Pathankot highway is a well knowncentre of Block Printing. Calico Printing enjoys a wide popularity. Printing in vegetable color with help of wooden blocks on hand woven cotton cloth is being used as cool, comfortable, floor/bed coverings and are in great demand.
Crewel – A special kind of embroidery done with a hook known as crewel is commonly used for drapery and upholstery. Rows of chain stitch done with hook from solid patterns usually rotating from centre& creating an embossed effect to add richness to the textile. Crewel embroidery is done on thick material popularly used for furnishing and usually carries floral and creeper designs. The designs are available in assortment of colours ranging from a single colour to multi colour embroidery.
Against the misconception that people tend to link Kashmiri handicrafts only with carpets, there is much more to Kashmir’s handicrafts industry. There are different qualities available in the market to suit every pocket from as low as Rs 10 to as high as few lakhs. People can always find things here suiting there budgets.