The kashmir valley is a place where Buddhism, Vedic culture, Sanskrit, Shaivism, Islam, Sufism, and Sikhism are chapters in a great book, shining, fading and merging like layers of paint on an old but resilient house wall. At various times of her history, Kashmir has been the focus of art patronage and consequently it has amalgamated Turkish, Persian and Mughal influences to create its own art idiom, The strong Islamic culture that is prevalent in the valley has ensured that the crafts. of Kashmir remain depicting representations of nature, particularly flowers and trees - an earthly homage to God and his house.
Craft in Kashmir reflects the Kashmiri people. It is slow and soft, with subdued colour, small in scale and can be done withi the home or at a workshop close to the home. You will not find giant murals of righteous and bright colours, or big bold stone or iron sculptures of man or machine, Its replendent theme can be brought down to that of the paradisiacal garden, the abode of God, the heaven of the hooris, and it is through this that their craft marries their religion and culture perfectly.
Visit safakadal and Lal Chowk
Papier-mache began on the wooden panels of wall and wooden furniture and was eventually adapted to paper moulds, for example, decorative trays, small boxes, book covers and sensual vases. The two major processes involved in the craft are 'sakthsazi' mould making and 'naquashi' painting. The artisian 'naqqash' will paints a kingly mark the surface, building layer upon layer of seemingly nonsensical colour formation until he has created an intricate floral pattern or highly stylised battle or hunting scene complete with miniature soldiers, heroines and animals. Sometimes, instead of using colour, the painting may be executed enirely in gold or silver. The inspiration for the floral motifs is drawn from local nature.
Visit Rainawari, Fateh Kadal, Nawab Bazaar, Nawa Kadal
Carpet weaving can be traced to the time of beloved Emperor and patron of the arts, Emperor Zain-Ul-Abidin. Although it is derived from the world renowened Persian carpet tradition, in kashmir the artisians have once again been influenced by the colour and form of their own Kashmir Valley and form of their own Kashmir Valley and created a new style of motfis and representative coloured dyes. Kaleen carpets are intricately hand knotted silk or woolen carpets woven on a vertical loom through a process of wrapping a supplementary weft around successive wraps, creating a heavy durable fabric with a soft pile surface of short lengths of fine wool or silk. The art of Kaleen (pile carpet) is said to have attained perfection in the valley of Kashmir; they are stunning and some are even considered priceless.
Visit Chattabal fold city, five minutes walk from SMHS hospital, Nawa Kadal and Lal Bazar
Wallnut woodcarvig is an ornamental craft process that is virtually unique to Kashmir due to the concentration of wallnut trees. Wallnut wood is a soft wood perfect to mould and is coloured a light, lusturous golden brown. It is used to decorate the home, either in big terms like chairs and dressers, or small delicate items like igar boxes and trays.
Visit Jamia Masjid, Zena Kadal, Fateh Kadal.
The most practical and used for all the kashmiri handicrafts, copper ware forms the cornerstone of every Kashmiri Kitchen. If you are invited to 'take rice' in a Kashmiri house, you will notice that family eat from raised copper bowls(thaalbaan) and plates, are served with copper serving spoons and copper dishes and will drink from copper cups. The local beleif is that taking food and drink from these vessels is good for the blood and will ensure good health and digestion.
Visit Hazratbal and Harwan. The most famous Kangri is from Char-i-sharif
Straw, grass and twigs are used to make products and containers for storing and transporting agricultural produce, and for domestic use. The most famous wicker work and an undeniable part of Kashmir's material culture is the Kangri "winter wife". The kangri has appeared in news, film, photography and literature. It has also been responsible for house fires and a special kind of cancer known only to the Kashmiri valley, the heat produced, from the kangri, hardens the blood vessels in the thighs and restricts blood flow causing mutation and carcinogens and cancer. The kangri is a wicker basket in which is placed a clay pot containing smouldering coals and is kept close to the body as a type of personal heater. The willow may be dyed blue, red or green and various geometric patterns are created by multi-directional weaves in the upper half of the kangri.
Fine shawl houses all over Srinagar
Sozni is a form of extremely fine and delicate needlework done primarily on shawls -mainly pashmina and high quality raffal. This work on fine wood shawls are the coveted item for fashionable women, and have been used as gifts to woo and impress nobles and laymen since the art began. Court records are full of references to the kashmiri shawl and they can be found in the museums and collections throughtout Europe and India.
The Bund, Khanqa Mulla (Shah-i-hamdan).
These embroidery techniques are done with gold or silver(Tilla) or silk(dori) thread, and are used to decorate pherans, saris and shawls. If you stay a while in Kashmir you will see older women in the markets and by the roadside wearing a shapeless and colourful gown that opens around the neck and has long sleeves pulled back, a "pheran". The decoration around the neck is named tilla, and after her marriage every Kashmiri bride will at some stage receive one of these till Pherans.
If you are only in srinagar for a short time and want to purchase beautiful handicraft, handicraft, please by-pass Dal Lake and the Boulevard and take a small walk to the beginning of the Bund, five minutes past the TRC and visit these exquisite showrooms. The level of work within these walls is exceptional, a veritable museums of handicraft. Even if not purchasing something, take a quick look and be amazed.
The Pashmina! Warm, glorious and gorgeous and one of fashions most covered wools. The history of the Pashmina is brutal and bloody, because every man wants a piece of this fine lucrative and luxurious cloth in order to feed his family and build his house. Pashmina is one of the world's finest types of wool produced by the 'changra' goats of Ladakh. Changra goats are found in Ladakh's changthang region. Changthan is high and dry and incredibly cold with winter temperatures falling below 30 degrees celsius during winter. Weaving from Pashm out of necessity had been an instituition for thousands of years in the cold and hostile areas of Nepal, Tibet and Ladakh.
Another type of wicker work used to make baskets. To see this work visit Dargah Hazratbal market.
You'll find many pottery shops in kashmir they have which includes Bugni(mini-bank), Jajeer pot, Flower vase, Water pot and some musical instruments like Tumak naari which is always used in weddings.