Kashmir is known throughout the world
as much for its arts and crafts as for its scenic beauty and bracing climate.
The diverse articles range from woolen 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-mâché, wood work, silverware,
etc are the products of unique craftsmanship.
The embroidery of Kashmir, called
kasida, is world-famous. Varied, rich in colour, elaborate in detail and exquisite
in execution, the kasida patterns are freely drawn by the naqqash mostly from
memory. The finest kasida work, particularly embroidered on shawls or saris, has
no 'wrong' side.
The chain-stitch is also used for the
making of a large number of miscellaneous articles such as bags, screens and
A unique position among Kashmir
textiles is held by the celebrated shawl.
The process of shawl-making is
fascinating from the start. Assiduously, women sort out of the lustrous, rough
substance from the smooth fleecy wool of the Kel goat, and they ply it over a
charkha (handloom) of the indigenous type, while chanting folk-songs. This
fabric, called pashimina, takes two forms of the loom: the loom shawl
(entirely woven on the loom ) and the embroidered shawl, which is woven
with an embroidered pattern. The celebrated 'ring shawl' has been given
in the popular name, because it can actually pass through a ring. Rare and
different from the others is the Jamavar shawl. In this case, the threads
of the warp and weft are dyed before weaving. The peculiar charm of this famous
shawl is derived from the symphony of colour schemes depicting architectural and
mythological figures interwoven with landscape designs.
A high-class shawl is expected to
have the designs worked evenly on both sides. The price of a pashmina shawl may
range anywhere from a few hundred rupees to thousands of rupees, depending upon
the craftsmanship and the time factor involved in its creation.
namda, felt rug, made from
beaten wool, which is then embroidered over, is an important branch of the kasida
industry of Kashmir.
gabba- a unique type of
floor covering, prepared from old woolens in a variety of forms and designs-
come next to the namda industry, and its manufacture is localised at Anantnag
(Islamabad). Baramulla specialises in printed gabbas.
The chain-stitch rung, which
resembles the gabba carpet, is also manufactured economically, as the base is Hessian
cloth and coarse wool, over which floral and other motifs are worked.
The carpet industry, introduced into
the Valley by Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, 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.
The flora and fauna of different
lands-Kashmir, Central Asia and Iran are depicted on the carpets of Kashmir in a
harmony symbolic of traditional synthesis of Kashmir's diverse cults and