Often learnt and mastered over generations, craftsmen and women still use their traditional knowledge systems, customs and practices in the production of regional handicrafts. The Kashmiri naqash is responsible for design development and is an essential bearer of the craft and cultural heritage produced in the Kashmir valley. Kashmir produces distinct floor coverings, one of the largest employment sectors in the region, each adopting indigenous methods of design development, communication and transmission. Hand knotted carpets use a coded syntax in the form of a taleem, the felted namdas use tracing sheets or blocks while the wagoo grass mat uses the method of oral transmission and demonstration. To explore these three craft practices, artisans were visited at different locations in Srinagar. The aim of the study was to examine the linkages between the Kashmiri naqash communities engaged in the production of floor coverings, their indigenous craft practices and the resultant material culture in an attempt to establish them as bearers of cultural heritage that forms the core of artistic practices. Using cultural studies theory, an ethnographic approach was adopted which, involved both direct observation of the production of these traditional crafts as well as semi-structured open-ended interviews with the artisans. The key themes emerging from the analysis have been discussed in light of their significance within the unique socio-cultural setup of Kashmir along with recommendations for future research.
Keywords – Kashmiri craft, cultural practices, material heritage, floor coverings, design practice.
Promil Pande, Ansal University, Gurugram, India
Stream: Cultural Studies
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