Fellas! It’s Thursday already and just one more day left to party and then play Holi. Gosh! To be frank, I have always run away from this festival (xyz reasons), but at the end I get caught for the array of love I receive from my friends and neighbors. Definitely, colors are the only thing that attracts me towards Holi, otherwise I do not want to look like the person standing next to me. Today’s post… (since this is the first Holi after my engagement) is dedicated to a mix of Kashmiri tradition and my favorite topic… craft, which also is a good combination of colour and tradition just like Holi :)
Kashmir is Crafting Magic
Kandkari is an exclusive craft in copperware that master-smiths of Kashmir have kept alive for centuries. The craftsmen engrave copper utensils for geometrical and calligraphic motifs. The designs on copperware items are unique and attractive. The most famous product of Kandkari work is ‘Kashmiri Samovar’ a kettle used to prepare Kehwa and Nun Chai. The other products on which you will see the beautiful craft on are bowls, frames, flower vases, tea sets and scent chests. By the way I learnt to make Kehwa, its soothing in morning.
Kishtwar Straw Work “Binna”
Pursued as leisure-time activity by women, straw work is done in various parts of Jammu. But the straw craft ‘Binna’ of Kishtwar is considered to be the best. The mineral rich brown soil of Kishtwar lends a special quality to wheat and the straw which is extraordinarily smooth and lustrous. It is used to weave round and oblong mats, containers and trays of various kinds with a unique finish. It looks so special :)
A style of embroidery which involves the use of gold or silver zari (tilla) thread. Tilla work is a traditional Kashmiri craft used to embellish pherans and shawls, but now can be seen on sarees, salwar-kameez and other garments. Artisans painstakingly embellish the fabric with designs made by silver or gold thread secured by cotton thread. The designs vary from traditional intricate patterns requiring a lot of time to finish to simpler ones which require less thread and labour. The most common motifs used are Pamposh (lotus), Chinar, Badam (almond). A brides trousseau is considered incomplete without a tilla pheran. Ahww… don’t ask ;) got more than needed… all in one piece.
Traditionally wood-carving has been an aesthetically vibrant art form in Kashmir. Kashmir has some of the best walnut wood carving done, anywhere in the world. Craftsmen etch floral or other patterns through a dexterous use of mallet and chisel on wood. Wood carving is done on a variety of objects ranging from furniture (tables, chairs, desks, dining tables etc.) to articles of personal use like jewellery boxes, photo frames and various other articles used for interior decoration.
Carpet involves the most intricate forms of weaving. Weaving almost one million knots per square meter, a craftsman turns a silk carpet into a marvelous piece of art. Famous throughout the world, carpet weaving in Kashmir has been passed and perfected through generations. Carpets are woven on wooden looms across rural and urban Kashmir. A carpet is completed in several months or years depending on the density and size. Raw materials used are wool, silk and mercerised cotton. No wonder they are super costly definitely because of time and effort it consumes.
Lachka is a tailored cap worn by Gujjar women and children. It is closely fitted and has a flap extending down to the neck at the back. Artisans embroider the Lachkas in cotton thread in bright colors with designs mostly in geometrical shapes like circles, triangles and wave-like lines. The finely embroidered caps are decorated with coins, buttons, amulets, shells and beads.
No family in Kashmir can get over the winter without a Kanger. The craftsmen make a small portable earthenware-lined wicker basket, Kanger, which becomes a warming pot when filled with burning coal. It is believed to be in use, since the time of Mughals. And no matter how many heating devices are there in the market nowadays, its popularity and utility remain intact. Kanger is a work of art and represents the place it is made at like Tchaar Kanger, Bandepoor Kanger, Islambaed Kanger. There are Kangeris which are intricately woven with fine willow, where some are made of coarse and thick material. I too have one :)
A rare and incredibly wonderful specialty of woodwork, Khatamband is an art of making ceiling. The craftsmen fit small pieces of wood (preferably walnut or deodar wood) in geometrical patterns without the use of nails. The ceiling when completed presents exquisite design and can easily be disassembled and reassembled according to the requirement. That’s amazing, isn’t it?
Popular since the 15th century, Phulkari is a style of embroidery using bright floral designs. The word phul means flower and kari mean craft. A traditional craft of Jammu, Phulkari is a domestic art practiced by women for their own use. A bride’s trousseau is considered incomplete without phulkari. Earlier the embroidery was limited to salwar-kameez and dupattas but now it is done on handkerchiefs, bags, footwear, sofa covers, jackets, wall-hangings etc. The designs are also no longer limited to floral patterns. They look beautiful.
Derived from a French word meaning ‘chewed paper’. Papier Machie involves composite material consisting of paper pulp sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive such as glue, starch or wallpaper paste. Through this decorative art, local craftsmen transform a variety of utility articles into rare art pieces. The process comprises of two phrases, the sakhtsazi (making the object) and the naqashi (painting the surface).
An artistic majesty woven into a shawl, Kani shawls are the most exquisite and famous shawls from Kashmir. Craftsmen weave the shawls with special wooden needles called Kanis in Kashmiri. With highly specialized weaving technique, Kani shawl takes at least a year or two depending on the design. The shawls have been a favourite of Mughal emperors and owing to their extraordinary beauty, skill and time involved, these shawls are exclusive and expensive. And trust me, they look gorgeous even without a woman wearing it.
Thank you J & K Bank :) I have taken a great help from their 2014 calendar. These crafts are out of our stretched hands, so am sharing it with you. I hope you enjoyed the deep sea of knowledge, colour, art and tradition. and I hope it will be of great use to you. Have a happy and safe Holi ;) Will catch up with you as soon as the colour sheds off from my face :) Enjoy!