Kashmiri handicrafts

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Kashmiri artisan carving walnut wood Kashmir Walnut Wood Carving

Kashmiri handicrafts is a traditional art of Kashmiri people and artisans who make, craft, and decorate objects by hand. Ganderbal, and Budgam are the main districts in central Kashmir which have been making handicrafts products since ages. The rest of its districts, including Srinagar, Ganderbal, and Budgam are best known for its cultural heritage which extends handicraft industry in Jammu and Kashmir, India. Embroidery is an integral part of many Kashmiri handicrafts, shawls, carpets and Kashmiri ladies pheran are adorned with intricate embroideries or flower styles made of thin metal threads and this kind of embroidery is known as 'Tille' in Kashmiri language. Embroidery work is done by both men in women in the region conventionally

The artistry of Kashmir with Palkis, bedsheets, trunks, inkstands, boxes, and spoons are famous all over India, furthermore, the shawl making is exceptional. Kashmiris make different types of handicraft products with simple items and materials traditionally. Some notable areas are textiles, carpets and rugs, crewel embroidery, phool kari, silverware, woodwork and papier-mâché, etc.[1][2][3][4]

Handicraft is a source of living for many artisans in Kashmir.[5]

Kashmir papier-mâché[edit]

Kashmir papier-mâchéis, a craft that was brought by Muslim saint Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani from Persia in the 14th century to medieval India. It is based primarily on paper pulp, and is a richly decorated, colourful artefact; generally in the form of vases, bowls, or cups (with and without metal rims), boxes, trays, bases of lamps, and many other small objects.[6]

Kashmir walnut wood carving[edit]

Kashmir walnut wood carving is a craft of fine wood carving. The Juglans regia tree that grows widely in Kashmir region is used for wood carving, and Kashmir is one of a few places for availability of walnut trees.[7] Walnut wood is used to make tables, jewelry boxes, trays, etc.


Kashmir was the center for woolen materials. Various kinds of shawls were a popular product of Kashmir.

Kashmir shawl[edit]

Shawls have been a foreign import to Kashmir by Muslim craftsmen from Turkestan as late as the 15th century. Persian masters were brought by the third Mughal emperor Akbar, that improved the local craft and techniques of shawl and carpet weaving.[8]

The Kashmir shawl is a type of shawl distinctive for its Kashmiri weave, and traditionally made of shahtoosh or pashmina wool.

François Bernier, witnessing the shawl industry first hand, emphasizes this point, and admits thatGreat pains, he says, have been taken to manufacture shawls similar to those of Kashmir, in Patna, Agra, and Lahore but notwithstanding every possible care, they never have the texture and softness of the Kashmir article, whose unrivalled excellence may be owing to certain properties in the water of that countryKashmiri Shawls are mainly sold at Polo View Srinagar( The Capital of J&K) by M/s GM Shah. One of the biggest exporter of the Kashmiri Handicrafts"


Pashmina or Kar Amir[edit]

The majority of the woollen fabrics of Kashmir, and particularly the best quality shawls, were and are still made of Pashm or Pashmina, which is the wool of Capra hircus, a species of the wild Asian mountain goat. Hence the shawls came to be called Pashmina.


The Emperor Akbar was a great admirer of the shawls of Kashmir. It was he who began the fashion of wearing them in duplicate, sewn back to back, so that the under surfaces of the shawls were never seen. During that time the most desired shawls were those worked in gold and silver thread or shawls with border ornamented with fringes of gold, silver and silk thread.

The Do-shala, as the name designates ("two-shawl"), are always sold in pairs, there being many varieties of them. In the Khali-matan the central field is quite plain and without any ornamentation.

Kani Shawl[edit]

Kani shawl is another type of Kashmir shawl originating from the Kanihama area of Kashmir. It is one of the oldest handicraft of Kashmir. This craft has been a part of the valley since the time of Mughals. The shawls are woven from pashmina yarn.[11]

Carpets, rugs and mats[edit]

Carpets are said to have originated from the oases and villages of Central Asia. The carpet weaving became a gift of these trading caravans to Kashmir.[12][13] Kashmir produces several varieties of handmade, handknotted floor coverings items such as carpets and rugs. Another widely used way to produce carpets was and is by the felting of wool.


Portrait of Mughal prince Sultan Murad, depicted kneeling on a felt namda rug (ca 1600)

Namda[14] is a traditional Kashmiri carpet produced by felting wool instead of weaving woollen threads. Wool that comes directly from the fleece of living sheep, is being sorted out, cleaned, dyed and than many layers are mingled together, soaped and felted. Later the rug is decorated with chain stitch Aari embroidery[15] with contrasting dyed threads.[16][17] Or decoreated with pieces of feIt.

Nomadic farming tribes of the Central Asian steppes and mountains knew the technique of felting already in the late Iron age and felted carpets are still part of the culture of countries such as Kirgizstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, parts of Pakistan, and Turkey. In India, the namda became popular during the time of the Mughal emperor Akbar (1556-1605). It is said that he was so much impressed by a namda given as a present to shield his horse from the cold, that the emperor granted the namda-maker, Nubi large swathes of land.[18]

The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is promoting the craft, expecting to benefit the over 2,000 artisans of the 30 namda clusters from Kashmir.


Qaleen (Kaleen, Kalin, قالین) is a type of hand knotted piled carpet.[19][20] It is a product of Kashmiri handicraft, these are handknotted intricately designed piled carpets made with wool or silk.[21][22] Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin king Budshah introduced "Kal baffi" craft (hand knotted carpets) from Persia to Kashmir in 15th century. Sultan brought carpet weavers from Persia and central Asia in to Kashmir to train the local inhabitants.[23]


Wagoo (also waguv[24] or waggu[25]) is a Kashmiri mat made of reeds. Wagoo was made by hand-knotting. Wagoo is a part of Kashmiri culture and heritage. Wagoo were regularly used in households in the Kashmir Valley.[26][27]

Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin brought carpet weavers to Kashmir. Kal baff's[definition needed] used to weave wagoo[citation needed] and eventually it become famous in Kashmir in the 15th century.[26][25]

Embroidery work[edit]

Embroidery is an integral part of many Kashmiri handicrafts, shawls, carpets and Kashmiri ladies pheran are adorned with intricate embroideries or flower styles made of thin metal threads and this kind of embroidery is known as 'Tille' in Kashmiri language. Embroidery work is done by both men in women in the region conventionally.[28]

Crewel embroidery[edit]

Stone crafting[edit]

Kashmiri artisans had very swift and neat hands in wood carving, stonework, stone polishing, glass blowing, and willow work. François Bernier appreciated Kashmiri's craft when he wrote in 1663.[29] Stone crafting in Kashmir is very old; exceptional examples of beautiful architect and sculptures were crafted. Few examples are grand structures of the temples at Martand, Avantipur, Pariharpur, Patan, etc.[30]

Role of Kashmiri handicrafts in economy[edit]

The handicraft industry remained an important key in the economic development of J&K and the industry has a great handout towards employment opportunities.[27] Handmade products are exported all over India and other parts of the world. Kashmiri handicrafts eliminated financial crises among those people who are affected with the physical disabilities.[31] After handicrafts gained foreign exposure with positive feedback, many youth made this, their profession. Kashmiri Handicrafts is the second largest and preferable industry after fruit in Kashmir Valley.[32][33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Raina, Mohini Qasba (13 November 2014). Kashur The Kashmiri Speaking People. Partridge Publishing Singapore. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-4828-9945-0.
  2. ^ Rafiabadi, Hamid Naseem (2005). Saints and Saviours of Islam. Sarup & Sons. p. 259. ISBN 978-81-7625-555-4.
  3. ^ Rafiabadi, Hamid Naseem (2003). World Religions and Islam: A Critical Study. Sarup & Sons. p. 106. ISBN 978-81-7625-414-4.
  4. ^ Lal, Kishori Saran (1999). Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India. Aditya Prakashan. p. 189. ISBN 978-81-86471-72-2.
  5. ^ Saeed, Mohammad (1990). A Survey of Research in Commerce and Management. Anmol Publications. ISBN 978-81-7041-415-5.
  6. ^ "The Art and Craft of Kashmir – Kashmiri Handicrafts".
  7. ^ Saraf 1987, p. 107.
  8. ^ Ashfaque, Farzana (2009). "Shawl and Carpet Industry in Kashmir Under the Mughals". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 70: 285–296. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44147675.
  9. ^ "Webpages – Frank Ames". Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  10. ^ "WOVEN LEGENDS: Carpets & Shawls from Kashmir 1585-1870 – Frank Ames". Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  11. ^ Vasudev, Shefalee (11 July 2015). "Looms of the valley". mint. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  12. ^ ''Chapter XI SMALL - SCALE INDUSTRIES ART OF WEAVING The first covering used by man was the skin of animals . The discovery of twisting fibres ... CARPETS Carpets are said to have originated from the oases and villages of Central Asia . This art of Kashmir has been a gift of the caravans . In the time of Jehangir , the ...'' Geography of Jammu and Kashmir - Page 141 A. N. Raina · 1981
  13. ^ Chib, Sukhdev Singh (1977). Jammu and Kashmir. Light & Life Publishers. p. 81.
  14. ^ Delahunty, Andrew (23 October 2008). From Bonbon to Cha-cha: Oxford Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases. OUP Oxford. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-19-954369-4.
  15. ^ "GOVERNMENT OF INDIA GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS JOURNAL NO.75" (PDF). 26 November 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 February 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  16. ^ Gajrani, S. (2004). History, Religion and Culture of India. Gyan Publishing House. p. 198. ISBN 978-81-8205-060-0.
  17. ^ "Namda - The traditional felted craft of Kashmir". Hindustan Times. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  18. ^ "Grab A Rug: The Namda From Kashmir". Outlook Traveller. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  19. ^ ''Another local woollen product is an ornately patterned woollen rug , known as qaleen . The usual weft threads are used in making the galeen , but in this case , the warp thread is purchased from the market . Very delicate patterns and designs ...'' Persistence and Transformation in the Eastern Hindu Kush A Study of Resource Management Systems in Mehlp Valley, Chitral, North Pakistan By Fazlur Rahman · 2007
  20. ^ Gajrani, S. (2004). History, Religion and Culture of India. Gyan Publishing House. p. 198. ISBN 978-81-8205-060-0.
  21. ^ Ranjan, Aditi; Ranjan, M. P. (2009). Handmade in India: A Geographic Encyclopedia of Indian Handicrafts. Abbeville Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-7892-1047-0.
  22. ^ Khadi Gramodyog. Khadi & Village Industries Commission. 1977. p. 417.
  23. ^ ''Origin: Once upon time, from Persia a Sufi mystic named Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani visited Kashmir. His caravan comprised highly skilled weavers and came via the silk route. And thus, Kashmir became the land of carpet weaving. Another school of thought believes, in 15th century, Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin king Budshah introduced this craft to Kashmir.  However, both theories find comfort in the fact that artisans were invited from Persia to train Kashmiris in the art of spinning and weaving.  These hand knotted carpets are locally known as KalBaffi or .'' https://craffi.com/Product-Detail.aspx?Pcode=PD-27
  24. ^ Bashir, Aliya (16 April 2014). "Kashmiri Weaver Keeps Reed Mat Tradition Alive Despite Drop in Profits". Global Press Journal. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  25. ^ a b Ahmad, Iqbal (2 December 2018). "The abysmal state of traditional Mat manufacturing in Kashmir". Kashmir Images. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  26. ^ a b Amin, Javid (9 January 2018). "Wagoo, traditional reed mat loses relevance in Kashmiri households". Kashmir In Focus. Archived from the original on 22 January 2021. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  27. ^ a b Ashraf, Yasir (28 February 2016). "Wagoo: Traditional Kashmir mat falling flat in face of polymer onslaught". Greater Kashmir. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  28. ^ Saraf 1987, pp. 64, 73, 74, 280, 209.
  29. ^ Bakshi, Shiri Ram (1997). Kashmir: Valley and Its Culture. Sarup & Sons. p. 214. ISBN 978-81-85431-97-0.
  30. ^ Saraf 1987, pp. 25, 188, 197.
  31. ^ "Sewing their way out of disability challenges". thehindubusinessline.com. Business Line.
  32. ^ "Handicrafts and artisans economic strength of J&K: CM". Business Standard India. Business Standard. Press Trust of India. 5 September 2011.
  33. ^ "Kashmir Carpet In Gordian Knot". outlookindia.com. Outlook India.