Visiting Jammu & Kashmir and wondering what to take back home as souvenirs? Here’s a guide to the handicrafts of the state. Sarah Merchant tells you about the Kashmiri shawls, cashmere pashmina and wooden handicrafts that you can come home with from Kashmir.
Jammu & Kashmir is made up of 3 different regions, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, with varied cultures, traditions, peoples and history. And nowhere is this reflected than in the local handicrafts, Kashmiri shawls, cashmere pashmina, which are a kaleidoscope of art and culture.
Ladakh, a mini-Tibet of sorts, is famous for its Indo-Tibetan and Buddhist culture. Kashmir valley shows major influences of Indian, Tibetan and Islamic culture, while Jammu depicts the Dogra culture, an ethnic majority in the region.
Kashmiri Shawls To Handicrafts Of Jammu & Kashmir
Particularly found in the Rupshu area of Ladakh, weaving is a major part of their lives. Every family here has a distinctive design that has been inherited through generations. Women who can’t weave are not considered ideal brides. Both men and women weave, but on different looms and the designs are also different.
When you see chain stitches forming a pretty floral design against a plain thick cloth, it is for sure crewel work. Crewel work is one of the embroideries popularly found in Kashmir. It is done using a pointed hook and is generally used for furnishing and decorating.
Since ages, Pashmina shawls are prepared in the Kashmir valley using traditional methods. Everyone loves to drape the soft Pashmina shawls on their shoulders. These Kashmiri shawls have left their mark on the world, with their trademark wool obtained from the winter coat of the special Pashmina sheep every spring. This wool or inner skin is six times finer than human hair. The process of this shawl-making is carried on manually without the slightest use of modern machines.
Basholi, a once magnificent town of Jammu and Kashmir is now known for its ruins and Basholi paintings. Basholi paintings are a metaphor for vigorous, bold and imaginative artistic style. These paintings are marked by the use of primary colours and unique facial features. Basholi paintings are rumoured to be of pre-Moghul origin.
One of the best art form in India, woodcarving is particularly common in Kashmir because of the growth of walnut trees there. Walnut woodcarvings are known for their strength and durability. In native language, this art form is called Khatam Band and the techniques used are immensely complicated and difficult.
The only expensive handicraft of Kashmir, carpets are an investment of lifetime. Kashmiri carpets have always shown a Persian influence with local variations added here and there. A typical Kashmiri design has the tree of life in the center.
Where to buy handicrafts in Jammu & Kashmir
1. Kashmir Government Arts Emporium, Near Bus Stand, Leh Ladakh;
Contact nos: 951982-250401; 9419179731
2. Kashmir Government Arts Emporium, New Airport, Srinagar, Kashmir
Contact nos: 9797000266
3. Kashmir Government Arts Emporium,Vishnu Devi Katra, Distt. Udhampur, J&K State
Contact nos: 951991-232038; 09858058115
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