Art and Crafts
Kashmir is renowned for its distinctive and fine handicrafts. Many of these developed when Srinagar was an entrepot on the ancient trans Himalayan trade route. Kashmiri shawls are world wide renowned for their softness and warmth. The best are Pashmina and Shahtush. The Kashmiri Shawls are thus the luxury items their manufacture remaining an important source of employment in the valley.
Hand knotted carpets are available in pure wool and mixed with cotton and silk. The pattern tend to the traditional, the Persian and bukhara styles being common though figurative designs such as the Tree of life are becoming increasingly popular.
A large carpet take months to complete, the price depending on the density of knots and material used, silk being by far the most expensive. After knotting the pile is trimmed with scissors, loose threads burnt off and the carpet washed and dried. Paper mache boxes, trays, coasters make ideal gifts. Paper is soaked, dried, mould then painted and lacquered. Traditionally natural coloring was used (like gold leaf for gold, charcol for black). The patterns can be highly intricate and the finish exquisite.
Other crafts include crewel work (chain stitching) on fabric), fur coats and 'kashmiri silver' jewellery, silk and fine wood carving, particularly on walnut wood.
Shopping for Art and Craft
Kashmir is famous for its handicrafts and noted for its distinctive embroidery. Carpets, papier-mache articles, wood carving embroidery, knitted items and saffron will be just some of the items are provided for buying. There are a number of government emporiums around Srinagar. Carpets can be bought for Rs200-8000 per sq foot. Wool is cheaper than silk and the number of knots per square (ranging from 200 to 1600)inch also determine the price. Design has little influence on price but the type of wool and silk does.
Exuisite handicrafts are available here. Basketry and Walnut wood furniture which is beautifully carved, utility articles and popular mache products, gold and silver jewellery of traditional dogri design, elaborated kashmiri skills,carpets and emboridered pashmina , shahtoosh shawls are some of the must buy items . Silk and wool carpets are specialty of Kashmir & u can get a big variety of stone products or stone jewellery here which is very good as memmentoes.