Mir Zeeshan


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Pulwama, Aug 08: Kashmir has been witnessing a considerable reduction in the number of artisans’ associated with the world renowned handmade Pashmina Shawl business and various factors are to be contributed for this decline in interest of Pashmina artisanship.

The material for this handmade Shawl comes from a special breed of goat – Chanthangi goat, found in the uplands of Tibet, Nepal and neighbouring areas of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.

Villages like Inder, Gudroo, Hasanwani, Parigam in Pulwama district are the hub of Pashmina Shawl weavers.  Notwithstanding the bleak future of Pashmina weaving, young and highly educated people of these villages continue to remain associated with the Shawl weaving business.

Talking to ‘Kashmir Images’, Adil Rashid Mir, 27, of Inder village who has an M.Phil degree under his belt, said, “I am working as a Pashmina Shawl artisan from last 5 years and nearly 60% of the youth in my village, of my age group, have chosen Shawl weaving as their full-time profession. We make Shawls, Arabian Rumals (headscarf) and stoles from Pashmina wool, which we get from our master weaver.”

“On one hand, Artisans’ like me work very hard for several days to produces a single piece of Pashmina Shawl or Stole and on the other hand some people are selling shawls which are made from power looms of synthetic and natural fibre in the guise of Pashmina and this malpractice has brought a bad name to one of the Kashmir’s oldest handicraft work,” he added.

The artisans in Pulwama said that they were earning peanuts. “We hardly manage to earn 300 per day and even sometime we don’t even get our labour paid for months, which sometimes motivates us to quit this job and start working for any other business.”

“The handloom department hardly pays a visit to our workshops. Most of the artisans’ here have the workshops stationed at their own homes and the concerned department had promised us to provide separate workshop sheds, but nothing has been done so far in this regard,” said another artisan adding that last year they were listed for all India tour aimed at selling skills of Pashmina products, but it turned out to be a lie as no artisan was taken on the said tour.

“The government is not assisting us in creating a platform where we can export shawls and stoles and also we want to learn new techniques and designs in Shawl weaving,” he added.

When contacted Associate Director Handloom department, Syed Javid Ahmed, said, “First and foremost, the artisans need to register with our department and so far we have registered most of them during our surveys. Our department through ‘Mudra Scheme’ provides loans and finance to artisans through different banks for which they have to pay 6% interest.”

“On priority basis we have given free heirlooms to many artisans. The cooperative committees of these villages are mostly defanged and they must approach to us for registering their grievances.” he added.

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