Shopping in Kashmir
Shawls: Perhaps, nothing epitomises the glorious history of Kashmiri craftsmanship, as warmly and beautifully, as does the Pashmina. A legacy of the great moghuls, it evolved over three hundred years under the patronage of four different rules. There are three fibres from which Kashmiri shawls are made - wool, pashmina and shahtoosh. The prices of the three cannot be compared - woollen shawls being within reach of the most modest budget, and shahtoosh being a one-in-a-lifetime purchase.
Carpets: Kashmiri carpets are known the world over for two things - they are handmade, never machine made, and they are always knotted, never tufted. It is extremely instructive to watch a carpet being made. A carpet may well be the most expensive purchase from your trip to Kashmir but it is a lifelong investment.
Stretched tightly on a frame is the warp of a carpet. The weft threads are passed through, the 'taleem' or design and colour specification are then worked out.
Wood Carving: Carved walnut wood-work is among the most important crafts of Kashmir. Kashmir is now one of the few places in the world where walnut is still available at an altitude of 5500-7500 feet above see level. The wood is hard and durable, its close grain and even texture facilitating fine and detailed work. It also presents visually interesting effects with mere plain polished surfaces in fact in contemporary products, plain surfaces and small carvings are preferred, especially on trays, tables, bowls and similar items.
Papier Machie: Papier Machie is one of the most popular of crafts practised in Kashmir. The tradition of the Kashmir Papier Machie has its origin rooted in the 15th century when king Zain-ul-Abidin invited accomplished artists and craftsmen from Central Asia. A French term so commonly adopted in East and West and meaning "mashed paper" papier machine is in fact a unique combination of line and colour on moulded forms of a variety of objects. It involves ornamentation in colour over smoothened surfaces built up of paper pulp.