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Is Kashmir’s traditional wicker craft dying a silent death?

Last Updated on November 22, 2021 at 5:30 pm

Kashmir’s traditional Willow wicker craft, locally referred to as Keani Keam, is a hand-skilled craft which involves weaving using willow reeds.  It is one of the oldest crafts of the valley. But this craft is dying a silent death as the products of the craft once seen in every home are now witnessing a major fall.

The industry is getting a decline as the young generation is not showing interest towards it as it provides with less returns. Shallabugh village in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district is known for its artisans in wicker willow work.

But due to lackadaisical attitude of the successive governments towards this industry and to explore the potential of the local economy has rendered them jobless.

Ghulam Nabi, a local artisan said that large number of populations has been engaged in this willow works but since past few years due to lack of interest many families started working in different areas. He further added that none of the government department has provided any financial aid and added that the willow products have always attracted buyers.

Another artisan, Abdul Rehman informed that the wicker work is hectic and goes through many stages.

He said the skilled men and women painstakingly interweave the thin and flexible reeds into nice and fancy products. “These goods are enchanting and attractive for the customer, but at the end artisan gets a few bucks which has forced many to leave this craft.”

Many local artisans also said that the traditional Kashmir wicker crafts have lost that charm and demand for wicker products has reduced due to cheaper plastic replacements.

Director Industries and Handicraft, Mahmood Ahmad Shah said that willow wicker is one of the important crafts and it is required to be encouraged. Shah further said that product development, skill upgradation, financial support will give a boost to the willow wicker sector. He further said that they are creating societies in these areas and each society is being given a one-time financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh.

He said that efforts are being made to upgrade the skills of the artisans and provide them with required financial and infrastructural support.