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Crewelwork is a kind of hand embroidery that has been practised in Kashmir for centuries. A hook (aari) and mainly woollen yarns in single or multicolour colours are used in this technique. A variety of products, including Namda (felt carpet), clothing material, and curtain fabric, are made with the help of crewelwork. The foundation fabric is the same for all of these products, and it is this which decides what the item would be used for and how it would be decorated.
Kashmiri Crewel Embroidery differs from other parts of the world as it is mainly made of woollen yarns compared to other parts of the world where it is made of synthetic or cotton yarns. Crewel Embroidery is done entirely by hand - no machine can recreate the skill or the impact of the strands of wool on a simple piece of fabric.
Each stage in the embroidery process, from beginning to finish, brings the piece a bit closer to its final flawless appearance.| Mahyah Binti Idris
Each stage in the embroidery process, from beginning to finish, brings the piece a bit closer to its final flawless appearance. The process of stitching starts with a Naqash (designer) and concludes at the washer, and it passes through an intricate procedure along the way.
Choosing a design is the first step in the crewel-making process; designs consisting of trees, maple, and flowers are some of the most popular choices among Kashmiri crewel makers. Personalized designs, whether classic or contemporary, are also available upon request from customers. The designer will start by drawing a preliminary sketch on a transparent piece of paper long enough to accommodate at least one repetition of the pattern. After that, holes are punched in the pattern.
The embroidered stitches are precisely aligned with the imprinted outlines, and each knot in the thread is secured. | Flickr
Once the design is complete, the pattern sheet is put on a previously set out fabric and rubbed all over with an ink-soaked cloth, allowing the ink to seep through the tiny pores in the design sheet, which leaves a beautiful and clean impression on the fabric underneath. Womenfolk now embroider the imprinted fabric with the famous Aari. The embroidered stitches are precisely aligned with the imprinted outlines, and each knot in the thread is secured. After getting stitched, the fabric is washed to remove the ink; it is ironed using a steam roller iron.
Crewel Embroidery is a delicate art form that requires special attention. Within the community, it is claimed that mastering the skill takes 16 years. Your cloth may get filthy with time, necessitating the need for cleaning. The majority of crewel fabrics should be dry cleaned properly to prevent colour leaking from the embroidered yarns.
Keywords: Crewel, embroidery, crewelwork, artform, aari, Kashmir, handicrafts
Namda is believed to have originated around the 11th century, under the reign of Akbar, the great Mughal emperor. According to historical records, Akbar directed to provide an appropriate covering for his horse, who was suffering from severe cold. As a response, an elderly man rose to his feet and stated his thoughts. His name was Nubi; he used to stitch multicolored and exquisite patterns into wool. Therefore, he offered his felting services to the emperor and as a result, wool felting was born and since then has developed into a world-class craft form that continues to astound people to this day. The skill of Namda manufacturing, was introduced to Kashmir by the Sufi saint Shah- e- Hamdan, who came with the noble purpose of providing a source of income for the Kashmiris. Namda making is still a source of income for a large portion of Kashmir's population.
Namda making is still a source of income for a large portion of Kashmir's population. | India Mart
Namda is produced by felting sheep wool rather than weaving it, which is what, makes it unique. On a grassor a jute mat, the wool is spread and then soapy water is sprinkled evenly over it. The mat is then firmly wrapped and secured with a rope, then pressed by rolling back and forth on the floor with the help of hands and feet. For about an hour, this procedure is continued as it allows the fiber of the layers to firmly stick together. After that, the rope is loosened and the mat is unrolled to reveal the beautiful Namda. This simple Namda is then embroidered with the stunning Kashmiri Aari Embroidery to complete the look. The Namda market in Kashmir is mainly concentrated in the downtown regions of Shehr-e-khaas, Anantnag, Rainawari, and Baramulla, as well as other nearby places.
Types of Namda:
- Plain Namda: It is a kind of simple mat that is not decorated with any type of embroidery work.
- Embroidered namda: These are the kinds that are decorated. Ari work is done on a simple namda with various colors to make it appear attractive and appealing.
- Cut work namda: In this technique, trimmed pieces are arranged according to the pattern while layers are created to produce the best namda.
The Namda market in Kashmir is mainly concentrated in the downtown regions of Shehr-e-khaas, Anantnag, Rainawari, and Baramulla, as well as other nearby places. | India Mart
Namda-making has turned into a part-time occupation in recent years. Work is required on a number of fronts in order to bring this art back to life. When it comes to the sales, its exports have seen a steep decrease, dropping by almost 100 percent between 1998 and 2008.
Don't forget to read about the Unique Handicrafts of Kashmir by clicking HERE.
Keywords: handicrafts, kashmir, wool, sheep, felting, namda, rug
Kashmir's carved walnut woodwork is considered to be one of the most prominent crafts in the region. Because of the high concentration of walnut trees in Kashmir, walnut wood carving is unique to Kashmir. In Kashmir, Walnut woodcarving was originally initiated by Sheik Hamza Makhdoom during the Zainul Abdideen rule of the 15th century. The King encouraged the art to grow the economy of the valley.
For carving, the walnut wood logs are sliced into planks with the help of machinery; this machine is locally known as "Band Saw," and the practice is locally known as "Laker Chiren" or simply "Chirin." These wooden boards are then chopped and set to dry, permitting air to travel through. The first phase in this practice is to hold the planks straight so that the sap is lowered in the plank, which takes around 4-6 months.
A timber carver, known locally as Naqash, crafts the bland wooden board into a unique and magnificent art form. | Mahyah Binti Idris
After 4-6 months, these wooden planks are then sent to the carpenter, who creates a box, window, or furniture such as a bed, table, chair, etc. These wooden boards are cut to the desired measurements and then leveled with the application of the planar, which is called "Randh Dunn," to make them thicker evenly in regular measurements. These planks of regular size are now finished using different local tools. The sandpaper is used to smooth the rough edges, while the pullet and varnish are used to smoothen and polish the surface. From the carpenter, who is usually called 'Chaan,' the piece is then sent to a timber carver, known locally as Naqash, who crafts the bland wooden board into a unique and magnificent art form. This is the last step referred to as carving.
STYLES OF WOODCARVING:
- Undercut (Khokerdar):
This type features multi-layers up to seven. The overall outcome tends to represent diverse patterns or sceneries in three dimensions: a jungle with layers of flowers, interwoven, animals jumping from bushes, birds flying, etc.
- Open or Latticework (Jalidahr):
This form of artwork is seen on screens and gives a magnificent look through Jali work. In this, Chinar leaf designs and Mughal jali patterns are carved.
- Deep carving (Vaboraveth):
This technique is also known as raised work, and the carving designs consist of dragons or lotus designs. The depth of the carving piece can go up to 5 inches.
- Semi carving (Padri):
This style of art usually consists of narrow panels with a core theme around the surface rim.
- Shallow carving (Sadikaam):
In this, the scenes are pursued along the pencil lines to give them a little depth.
TOOLS USED FOR WOOD CARVING:
The main tools are: - chisels of different styles (wathlavun), planer (randha), L-angle to obtain parallel and perpendicular lines (Khari hat), tape measuring (phetgaz), and wooden scale (khat chhal).
The themes of these wooden handicrafts are inspired by several natural beauties of Kashmir, Chinar leaves, Vine leaves, Lotus, and Rose blooms. | Mahyah Binti Idris
DIFFERENT THEMES OF WOOD CARVING:
The themes of these wooden handicrafts are inspired by several natural beauties of Kashmir, Chinar leaves, Vine leaves, Lotus, and Rose blooms. Kashmiri's wood carving specialty is the Khatam band with geometrical designs that are magnificently carved on wood. The patterns are chiselled around the edges or cover the full surface. The diversely sculpted flower designs or geometric motifs form stunning works of art. A single item might take between 2 days and six months, depending on the complexity of the design.
The diversely sculpted flower designs or geometric motifs form stunning works of art. | Mahyah Binti Idris
Don't forget to read about the Unique Handicrafts of Kashmir by clicking HERE.
Keywords: walnut, wood carving, wood, carpenter, kashmir, handicraft
Bangalore attracts tourists and the urban population in two concentrated areas. One is the Bangalore-Mysore Road, and the other is at the helm of Brigade Road. At these places, colorful toys are displayed in scores, some in large woven baskets, some hanging off colorful threads, and some of the larger ones sitting pristine on the footpath, watching the movement of the people. These toys are the famous Channapatna craft of Karnataka, the pride of the state.
The Channapatna craft originated in Persia, and Tipu Sultan is said to have patronized it in Mysore. Local artists were taught how to carve wood into these geometric patterns, and color them with dyes, way back in the days of the Vijayanagar Kingdom. They survived the patronage of many rulers after that, and have a global acclaim today.
A small town between Bangalore and Mysore, Ramanagara, has kept this craft alive. Earlier, the wood was primed by hand, but when the craft declined, Japanese technology was introduced by Bavas Miyan, to help cut and shape the wood. He is known as the unofficial Father of Channapatna toys. Dyeing and processing is still done manually.
A Channapatna artists carving shapes on the wood manually Image source: wikimediawikimedia
Channapatna toys are made from soft woods. They are carved from ivory wood, or aale mara as it is known in Kannada. Sometimes, special toys are carved from rosewood and sandalwood as well. Ivory wood, being light in color, and almost weightless makes for a suitable material to craft children's toys. It easily takes on the dyes as well, which are made from turmeric, Kumkum, and vegetables. The wood is first dried, sanded, and then carved. After this, it is checked for uneven surfaces, and when the shapes are approved, it is painted and sold.
In 2010, when US President Barack Obama visited India with his wife, his interest in these toys earned them global acclaim. In 2015, they were featured as the theme for the Bengaluru Republic Day parade. Since then, many international companies and businesses have invested in this handicraft.
A Channapatna artist painting the toys using vegetable dyes Image source: wikimediawikimedia
Ramanagara is known as Gombegala Ooru in Kannada which means "Town of Toys". It was a vibrant business centre in the days of Tipu Sultan, and today, it has preserved its identity for its unique art. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has come to recognise this town as a Geographical Indication for its work. Channapatna toys are available in stores all over Karnataka, and are special features at places like Chitrakala Parishad and Cauvery Emporium. They are also sold online.
Keywords: Toys, Handicrafts, Channapatna, Karnataka, Dyeing, Ramanagara.