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Culture Watch: SHAWLS OF KASHMIR

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Culture Watch: SHAWLS OF KASHMIR
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29 Sep 2020

Kashmir is known for its pristine valleys, apples and Kashmiri Art Work across the world. One of the most famous commodities of Kashmiri Art Work are the Kashmiri Shawls. Kashmiri Shawls are known for their finesse, warmth, delicacy and fashion statement. The Kashmiri Shawls have been the identification of the Kashmir throughout the world since ages. They are extensively used in England, France and many other European countries. Kashmiri Shawls have served more than merely as items of commerce, as apart from being coveted articles of clothing, they have been prized objects of gift exchange between political entities,status-symbol and representation of a land on the far edges of empire, the natural splendour which endowed its artisans with inherent artistic abilities to produce such fine textiles. This is the reason that the Kashmiri Shawls have been celebrated in historical, fictional, political and design narratives in multiple languages including Persian, English and French.

The Indian Govt and Indian Army is playing an important role to boost the manufacturing of Kashmiri Shawls by the local population. The army personnel deployed in the valley continueto be the major customers and promoters of these shawls. Indian army is also helping the locals by providing the required infrastructure such as Electronic Machines and Generator sets. Women of Kashmir are known for their embroidery skills since ages. Self-help groups of women have been formed and the machines have been provided to them so that these women may utilise their skills and enhance the rate of production of the shawls. This has provided a source of income to many women of the state. Women who were earlier confined to their house hold works are now earning bread for their families. 

The coordinators of these groupsare in direct contact with the Army andthe Army has provided various platforms to these self-help groups by establishing shops in military cantonments and transit camps across the valley. This has improved the demand and supply chain of the Kashmiri Shawls. Now, these small self-help groups, which have strength of around 50 women, take large orders. They collect raw materials from the local market and deliver finished products. Many of these self-help groups are also registered with Handicraft Department of the state government.

The aim towards forming these self-help groups was to make the women of Kashmir self-reliant and make them financially independent. This aim has been achieved as the Kashmiri Shawls made by these women are being sold in large numbers and are even being exported to the other states. The women who make these shawls are very adaptive to new trends and fashion. They alter the size of the shawls according to the trend and thus, keep the shawls in demand. 

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, when most of the businesses were shut due to the nationwide lockdown, these women worked from home on these marvellous pieces of art and have made new designs of these shawls. As the winter is about to set in these shawls will be in great demand both in the state as well as in rest of the country.

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