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‘Craft Safari’ Reviving Kashmir’s Traditional Handicraft Sector

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Last Updated: December 24, 2022, 12:50 IST

Crewel embroidered handicrafts from Kashmir are popular around the globe for its sheen and beauty. (Image: Shutterstock)

Crewel embroidered handicrafts from Kashmir are popular around the globe for its sheen and beauty. (Image: Shutterstock)

The ‘Craft Safari Tour’ which started in 2021 has received positive feedback from the handicraft sector

Kashmiri artisans have long been famed for their intricate and exquisite handicrafts. But over the years, the handicraft industry had been shrinking in the state. The government’s “Craft Safari” programme was launched with the aim of boosting the local artisans. The programme was launched by Kashmir valley’s local administration in 2021. Now, nearly a year after the programme was launched, officials state that the programme is fully operational and already showing good results.

The “Craft Safari” sees officials from the state’s Handicrafts and Handloom Department including its Director, visit local artisans along with academicians like researchers and scholars, journalists, tour operators, tourists and students. The groups then see the artisans in practice still carrying out centuries-old forms of handicraft in Kashmir. The groups then promote the work of the artisans and also allow the artisans to have access to bigger markets, which has been one of the major causes of the decline in the Kashmiri handicraft industry.

Craftsmen in the valley are widely popular for their skills but the industry had been experiencing significant losses for the previous three decades. Hence the government decided to launch this initiative to support local craftsmen.

The ‘Craft Safari Tour’ which started in 2021 has received positive feedback from the handicraft sector. Officials visited various workshops and residential houses on a weekly basis to check on residents and hear their complaints.

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Mehmood Shah, the Director of Handicrafts Kashmir, told news agency ANI, “We started this initiative in December 2021. We have received a positive response this year so far. Tourists expressed their desire to visit Craft Tour. Every week 4-5 groups of officials visit and get feedback about the work of artisans. Seeing a positive response, We have decided to expand our work”.

He added that they have also started a registration process in order to ensure not a single craftsman is left out. Some of the popular handicrafts in the state include carpet weaving, wood carving, shawl making, and embroidery among other things.

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