Traditional crafts of Kashmir

blue-brass-beggar-bowl, beggar bowls

The traditional crafts of Kashmir are a source of great pride for the people of this beautiful land. From the intricate patterns of the Kashmiri carpets and shawls to the delicate wood carvings and the exquisite chain stitch, Papier Machie, Crewel, Namdha, Phool Kari, these crafts have been a part of Kashmiri culture for centuries. In this article, we will explore the unique and fascinating traditional crafts of Kashmir and how they continue to be passed down through generations.

  • Kashmiri Carpets:
The intricate art of hand-knotted carpets — locally known as “Kal baffi” — has been passed down through centuries, dating back to the 15th century when Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin brought weavers from Persia and Central Asia to train the Kashmiri inhabitants. From 200 knots to 900 knots/sq. inch in both wool and silk yarn, these carpets have achieved a level of excellence that has earned them a place among the finest in the world.
To craft these intricate designs, the weaver uses two horizontal wooden beams, one in front and the other behind, to stretch the wrap threads. The difference between a carpet and other hand-woven rugs lies in the tying technique: short lengths of thread or yarn are knotted to wrap chains to create the pile of the carpet. These knots are commonly called knots, though it is actually a loop. The Farsi baff and the Persian Sehna or Sinneh knot are used in Kashmir, and simple tools like a comb and scissors are used to thread and cut the pile.
When it comes to quality and craftsmanship, the artisans of Kashmir have set the standard for exquisite carpets. Commonly found with 18×18 or 20×20 knots per square inch, these finely-crafted pieces are a testament to the skill and mastery of the weavers. But for those seeking the absolute highest quality and attention to detail, a select few extraordinary silk carpets are created at an astonishing density of 3600 knots per square inch. These rare and exquisite works of art are not only beautiful to behold, but also serve as a reminder of the incredible skill and artistry of the weavers that created them.
  • Kashmiri Shawls:
The Kashmir shawl is without a doubt one of the most beautiful textiles in India, renowned for its vibrant colors, textures, and designs. It is crafted using two distinct techniques – loom-weaving and needle-embroidering. The fabric used for these shawls is of three types – Shah Tush, Pashmina, and Raffal.
Shah Tush, also known as Ring Shawls, are made from wool from a rare Tibetan antelope that lives at an elevation of over 14,000 feet in the Himalayas. Pashmina, famous all over the world as Cashmere Wool, is sourced from a special goat (Capra hircus) that lives in the mountains of western Tibet, around the renowned Pongkong lake. Raffal shawls are spun out of Marino wool tops, making them a popular option.
No matter the style, Kashmir Shawls are truly a sight to behold.
  • Kashmiri woodworks:

Kashmir’s walnut woodwork is an ancient craft, still alive and well today. This hardwood is found at dizzying heights of 5500-7500 feet – one of the few places in the world where walnut can be found. Its close grain and even texture make it ideal for the intricate details that make up these beautiful pieces. And the diversity of visuals it lends to the finished product – from plain polished surfaces to small carvings – is simply stunning. Whether it’s trays, tables, bowls or something else, the walnut craftsmanship of Kashmir is an art worthy of admiration.

  • Chain Stitches:
The vibrant, exquisite art of chain stitch rugs is a specialty of Kashmir. Handmade on hessian cloth or cotton fabric, these unique pieces of art are intricately crafted with two-ply or three-ply woolen or silken yarns and a special hook-like tool known as “Aurah”. From beautiful floral patterns to intricate animal and human forms, there’s no shortage of artistry in these masterpieces.
These rugs are not only perfect for floor covering, but also make a stunning addition to your walls. With sizes ranging from 2×3 to 9×12 feet, you’ll be able to find one that fits your space perfectly. What’s more, these rugs are reinforced with a cloth lining for added durability and longevity.
So if you’re looking for a unique and eye-catching piece of art, don’t miss out on Kashmir’s exquisite chain stitch rugs!

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