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Srinagar Craft Safari 7th edition starts at Craft founders bylanes

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Srinagar: The Srinagar craft Safari treads through the lanes of Khanqah of Shah-e-Hamdan who owns the pride of introducing crafts to Kashmir. Handicrafts are the integral parts of life in the downtown area of Srinagar city. 

Famous for its beauty and craftsmanship, the Khanqah area offers a prominent collection of arts and crafts both decorative and utilitarian. Be it Zari, Sozni, Dyeing, Silver Ware or Copperware each handicraft emanates a charm and originality of its own.

Overlooking the serene banks of river Jhelum, the officers from the Handicrafts and Handloom Department, Intellectuals, Academic Scholars, Journalists, Tour operators, Students and people from art loving fields started today’s safari from the architectural marvel, Khanqah which stands as a living example of fine woodwork designed with Paper Machie and Khatamband Ceiling. The safari commenced while appreciating the efforts of Abdul Rashid a 60-year old soap maker who sustains the languishing craft of namdhasaazi and indigenously makes the soap which gives life to the famous Kashmiri Namda from the last thirty years.

Kashmiri Copperware locally known as kandkari has been an indispensable commodity in Kashmir since ages. The age old art of crafting copperware was witnessed at the unit of Mohammad Aslam Bhat who runs the unit of innovative copper products at his unit named Vanposh which has earned its own name all over the world. The craftsmanship was appreciated by all the onlookers for its intrinsicwork of engraving.

With a Zari thread of silver wound around his neck Mohammad Shafi Mir narrated to the team how he learned the Zari craft ever since the age of 6. Rashid owes increased demand in tiila (Zari) embroidery in the past few years as the craft has turned to be a fashion statement among the youngsters. 

In his 122-year-old dyeing karkhana the team met Bashir Ahmad who explained the process which involves the mixing and producing of the specific colours needed for the dye, the soaking of fabric in boiling, coloured water and then drying the coloured threads. The dyeing industry is boosted by the Valley’s handicraft industry, as the colourful threads are used in designing of products like woollen shawls, carpets and Pashmina products.

The traditional silverware with intricate artwork has always found a great favour in the international market along with its increasing popularity in the domestic market. The artwork on silver item covers a wide range of silver items. Popular among them are Quran cases, dry fruit boxes, flower vases, chinars, ornamental picture-frames, cigarette cases, tumblers and others. For years these are being used and liked by Kashmiri people. The intrinsic items of silverware were cherished by all at the Karkhan of  Farooq Ahmad who is the lone artisan in the valley to create purely antiquated silverware and German Silver.

The craft safari next visited the 100-year-old business of dyes and threads presently owned by Yamin. The unit is a single window establishment for all patterns and types of threads viz.; silk, wool, viscose and dyes used for staple, willow wicker, silk carpets and wool. Creating the perfect colour gradient and shades for distinct crafts gives the unit its uniqueness.

The safari concluded at the Aali Kadal Ghat, a hub of craft richness and skill preserved by the master craftsmen for centuries. People associated with the craft believe that it is the waters of Jhelum which give the dreamlike texture of Kashmir Pashmina and infuses life into the dyed Pashmina of myriad colours.

The kaleidoscopic dance of the hanging pashmina bid bye to the team on the conclusion of craft safari’s 7th edition. 

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