“If there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here” maintained Jahangir, the fourth Mughal emperor. Kashmir is resplendent with beautiful Chinar trees that turn the entire valley yellow and red during autumn. The crystal blue rivers and the picturesque snow-clad mountains make this beautiful valley postcard-perfect. Kashmir is also home to many crafts that reflect the rich history and culture of the valley.
Papier Mache is one such technique, steeped in history. This craft, that employs paper pulp to make decorative objects, was first adopted in Kashmir in the 15th century by King Zain-ul-Abidin. Mir Sayyed Ali Hamdani, a Sufi mystic, came to Kashmir during the late 14th century along with his followers, many of whom were craftsmen. These craftsmen used handmade paper pulp from Iran, Central Asia to create beautiful offerings and passed on the skill to the locals who started specializing in pen holders of 'qalam dans'. Today, their range includes everything from boxes to bowls, trays to board games, resplendent with hand-painted intricate patterns.
While Kashmiri artisans specialize in a host of crafts, their captivating embroidery styles have created waves across the globe. Vibrant in color and rich in texture, Kashmiri embroidery pays tribute to symbols native to their culture. The motifs are primarily floral and inspired by blossoms including Pamposh (lotus), Gulab (rose), Sarav (cypress), Dainposh (pomegranate), Sosan (iris), Sumbal (hyacinth), and Yambarzal (narcissus). Other motifs that tend to be popular in Kashmir are those of animals (lions, rabbits, horses, deer), birds (bulbuls, partridges, herons, ducks) and even the samovar, or tea-pot native to Kashmir.