28 Sep 2020
- A valley between the great Himalayan range and the Pir Panjal mountain range, Kashmir is a place of beautiful simplicity and pristine natural beauty. Kashmir is painted with a unique culture that keeps you intrigued throughout your journey, from Srinagar to Sonamarg and Gulmarg till Pahalgam. It is a land of rich heritage & culture & has always been known for its handicraft like Pashmina, Carpet, Silverware and Woodwork. One such art is Numdah, which is the craft of making carpets by felting.
- Numdah Handicraft: 11th Century Art. The tradition of making handmade Numdah carpet has been inherited from Kashmir over 500 years ago. During the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar, a man named Nubi innovatively created a felted covering for the king’s ill horse. Ever since people have been making felted cloth from wool of sheep. The technique requires taking unspun wool and pounding it with water and soap multiple times until the flat base is achieved. They then sketch the pattern on the Numdah rug base. Ever since the colorful Numdah has been used to carpet the floor of Kashmiri homes during winters. It makes an excellent floor covering, wall decoration and mattress in certain areas. The sheep wool ‘kat yer’ used for Numdah is bought from Badgam, Pahalgam. This embroidered work is highly traditional and made after a lot of manual effort. Numdah lost its sheen after some years as the manual hardwork required was more and the remunerations were less.
- Losing its Sheen. Sadly, Numdah is becoming a thing of the past as people have started losing interest in the handicraft. This craft seeks a lot of physical strength and the remunerations are hardly comparable. Much of it can be attributed to industrialization & globalization which provided more affordable and variety of products. But recently efforts made by a woman named Arifa Jan to revive and revamp this 11th century old rug making technique of Numdah has given some ray of hope for the survival of this old handicraft technique.
Arifa Jan: Against All Odds. 29 years old Arifa Jan 29 had taken up the daunting task to revive and revamp the 11th century rug making technique, Numdah, which is indigenous to the valley. She had been conferred for her determination with lifetime achievement award in 2016. Her success story is one of the many in the valley which is recasting Kashmir that everyone has always dreamt of. Just as no one can stop beauty of nature from spreading slowly into the eyes of the beholder, no matter the circumstances you cannot stop the power of art to travel far and wide. It is this enterprising spirit of Kashmiri craftsman and today’s youth that keeps the art of Numdah alive.