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Craft Safari in Kashmir: A move to revive state’s centuries old hand-made craft


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Kashmir handmade craft, which is world-famous and has helped Srinagar city to get Recognised as the UNESCO’s Creative City in the field of Craft and Art, is being revived now. The Jammu Kashmir government, under the Kashmir handicraft department, has started a process in a unique way to give new life to those world-famous dying craft of Kashmir. 

Craft Safari is a new way adopted by authorities for the revival of the cultural heritage of Kashmir. A team of the officers from the Handicrafts and Handloom Department including its Director, Intellectuals, Academic Scholars, Journalists, Tour operators, Students and people from other fields move together and visit the artisans who still are carrying those centuries-old crafts in Kashmir. 

The handicraft department makes sure that the safari members create awareness about those crafts. The craft safari included visiting artisans of crafts like Paper Mache, Woodcarving, Pottery, Silverware, Copperware, NamdhaKari, Pashmina and Silk Carpets. This is to boost the historic heritage crafts of Kashmir and give them a better market because for the last two decades those heritage crafts have seen slow death due to the non-availability of the market. This has forced the newer generation not to carry trade those crafts forward but now as the government has shown pains for its revival those young artisans are seeing a ray of hope.

Artisan Sajjad Ali said, “It is a very good step, we are hopeful that it will revive those crafts which are world-famous and if the buyer reaches directly to the artisan, then the artisan will get right price of his work and buyer too will be sure that he got the genuine thing. Artisans had earlier left those crafts, but it is emerging as an industry.” 

For this craft safari team department has taken the help of social media influencers and tourist players so that those crafts stories are posted on social media which can attract people across the globe to buy them, besides the tourist players, who host lakhs of tourists every year in the state, can take their tourist guests to those artisans direct. 

Nasir Ali Khan a social media influencer said, “all the artisans whom we met are happy with this step, when we put their stories it on social media, many people started enquiring about them, so many people who are associated with those crafts and arts have started to contact us so that they can be promoted.”

“This will give new life to this dying industry,” Nasir added. 

Since the Srinagar city is listed in list UNESCO’s list of creative cities authorities too have started to work on the revival of the heritage and culture of Kashmir. The incursion of machine crafts has already given a big setback and bad name to the handmade centuries-old craft of Kashmir.  So now the department is working online so that handmade craft and machine-made craft can be easily identified. They have started GI tagging to handmade products. Target is to strengthen the handmade craft artisan and craft. 

Director handicraft and handloom Kashmir Mehmood Shah said, “The purpose of craft safari is that people who come here, go directly to the artisan and see how hard it takes to make this craft and buy it directly from the artisan and if we succeeded then the artisan economic condition will improve. Machine-made products is sold in the name of Hand made, it has affected, so to correct that we have started GI tagging.”

“GI has been implemented so that to know the difference between machine and hand, that is why this has been started so that they get the right price,” he added. 

If all goes well very soon Kashmir centuries handmade craft will flourish again this only will not give a boost to Kashmir heritage and culture but also artisan will be having a new era. 

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