Idrees Ali

Manzoor, a unique mosaic artist of Valley

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With talent in abundance, financial worries burden the young artist


Ganderbal: In a dark, out of form room, in a corner of the house, Manzoor Ahmad Bhat remains immersed in making matchless mosaic art pieces. His room cum workshop presents an eye caching view, flooded with breathtaking mosaic art, seamless combinations of hundreds of pebbles and crushed stone.

Manzoor hails from Guzarbal village of Ganderbal. According to his friends, he  was not much interested in the formal education since his childhood though he was very much creative.  He was master in paper art, used to make beautiful paper art out of trash. Teachers and classmates were astonished by his talent, but not many encouraged him; it was  waste of time for some.

From paper artist to mosaic artist – the transformation was prompt.

“I was a child and on a hot summer day decided to have a bath in a local spring. I was mesmerized by  eye-catching combination of pebbles on the bed of  the spring. It resembled a beautiful painting. I took the pebbles  to my home and tried to make a decorative piece like it was at the bottom of the spring.

“It took lot of time and energy but I didn’t gave up and, finally,  I was able to make a beautiful combination of mosaic art. Since then I have crafted hundreds of them and my passion for the art is not diminishing despite various challenges,” Manzoor said.

Interesting thing is that Manzoor has not learnt the art from for anyone. For him it comes naturally. “Three or four years ago I didn’t even knew that  the art is called mosaic art. When I started it was altogether new for me. I had not seen it before through any medium. It is Allah’s gift. Very recently I got to know that what I have been doing is infact centuries old art,” Manzoor said.

Use of various kinds of hand crushed stones and rocks makes the art very unique. Manzoor claims, “This kind of art is very exceptional. You won’t find this kind of mosaic art around the world. It can be a new nomenclature.”

“There are mainly five types of mosaic arts – classical pebble, industrial hand and custom ceramic but, what I do is altogether different. Mine is mainly combination of  pebble and hand crushed stones and rocks,” says Manzoor.

He insists that he hasn’t copied his art-form from anywhere.

“As compared to other type of mosaic art, mine is very different; I don’t use artificial colors. My art pieces consists of natural colored stones and pebbles. Whenever I get order of special kind of portrait I have to collect stones with natural colors and ssemble them. Most of mosaic artists use artificial color but I collect stones from distant places of natural color,” Manzoor told this reporter.

Manzoor has made hundreds of master pieces some of them are exceptionally wonderful. Some  off the portraits took Manzoor months and years to complete. Portrait of king of  Saudi Arabia  Salman Al-saud  is one of his wonder pieces. Manzoor wants to gift the portrait to king.

Other portraits include Che Guevara and Sri Sanya Sia Baba.

Manzoor uses raw material very judiciously. He collects pebbles and stones and rocks from all over Jammu and Kashmir even some material is brought from outside state.

“Collecting pebbles and stones is very hectic job. You need accurate raw material for the art piece. It is more hectic when someone orders for particular image. Some stones are even taken from high mountains of Ladakh,” Manzoor said.

Unfortunate thing is that Manzoor is not able to earn much from the art. He spends most of his time with the art but finical constraints are the major worry for him. Although parents support him but insecurity about future is constant disturbance.

Impressed by Manzoor, his childhood friends Mohammad  Umair and Asia Abdullaha Bhat  took an initiative to showcase the art to larger world and make living out of it. The major worry was lack of awareness about the art of  Manzoor, among  art loving people so they  decide to start an online shopping  portal and art gallery.

They invested much in the endeavor but are bit disappointed with lack of support. “This type of art needs publicity which can be realized by conducting exhibition in India and then around the World. We don’t have such financial resources,” said Umair.

“We have uploaded almost all the art pieces on the website and it is open for sale all around the world. Government and private institution can help us in showcasing the art to the world. Our endeavor will continue to reach out to the world through the art.”

Despite difficulties, Manzoor and his friends are hopeful that in near future Pastel Box will achieve success and their hard work will bear fruits.

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