Kashmir, the “Heaven on Earth” is not just about the stunning scenic views, but also known for its handicrafts. Kashmiri artwork is known worldwide for its unique artistic work and Kashmiri Carpets, also known as Kashmiri Rugs are undoubtedly the best example of the artwork. The Kashmiri carpets are India’s pride. The carpets are always found of more appeal due to their quest designs and an interesting blend of classic colours. Famous places where carpet weaving is done are Baramulla, Budgam, few remote locations near Dal lake & Achar lake in Srinagar.
The art of weaving and spinning was already known to local population of Kashmir but according to few historicans, Ghiyas-ud-din Zain-ul-Abidin in 15th century called few persian artisans, master of this art, to teach locals the technique of weaving and spinning. This art was quickly taken over by locals and small scale industries came up and art started flourishing on high tides. The proof of the same is reflected in art & culture of many dynasties of that time. Soon after demise of king Ghiyas, the art started loosing its charm. During the time of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, great saint Akhun Mulla Rahnuma took it as a challenge to revive the lost art. The art was so flourished and loved by all in 18th century that the Kashmiri carpets were showcased at Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. Post-independence, state government took measures to revive the carpet industry. These measures were taken especially to increase the state govt revenue.
As the tourism industry flourished in Kashmir, the carpet industry also started spreading its wings. Owing to the opportunity and good market price which resulted in higher income, the production and learning of art shifted to rural and small scale industries. Initially the carpet industry was men driven but later women were introduced to the art. The art was taken up quickly and soon small scale units established which got subcontracted work.
Like many other industries carpet industry also suffered hardship owning to increase in terrorist activities in Kashmir during 90s. The tourist count fell drastically and so as the foreign buyers which resulted in carpet economy of Kashmir. Militants began targeting carpet manufactures and the manufacturing plants began to shut down. When plants were shut down so all industries got affected by it be it suppliers, detergent manufactures, wool makers, thread weavers, transportation sector etc. Above all, even local banks were suffered as cash flow dried up. With the time the ways and means of militants also changed and they shifted their focus to drugs. The easiest way to get drugs in through carpets. This broke the trust of population and is also considered one of the reason for it’s decline and further more advancement of technology brought automatic machines which further led to the deterioting state of carpet weavers and industry as a whole.
In last three years things started building in favour of carpet industry. Again Government of India focussed on grey areas which needed immediate attention. Among others was the Carpet industry, the central government alongwith civil authorities took extra measures to pull up the carpet business in Kashmir. Especially the terror funding after demonetisation was under control. Post abrogation of Article 370, the militancy was curved and the fear was minimized among the population. This boosted the economy of the Kashmir and tourism sector again started gaining heights. The carpet industry again started flourishing and got international recognition again.
The carpet industry is now again on world forum. Kashmiri carpets got the GI Tag, which shows the originality of carpets woven in Kashmir and is handmade. The carpets have a huge market outside country especially in Germany. With this pace, the carpet industry is going to achieve new heights and will generate enough employment for the Kashmir. With more employment opportunities, the militancy will go down drastically and the Kashmir image will change forever.
Ideas, Opinions and Views expressed in articles are Writer’s own and may not be in accord with those of SUBAH KASHMIR