Carving is a demonstration of the carver's skill; walnut being one of the strongest varieties of wood is eminently suitable for carving and is found in Kashmir. There are several varieties of carving. Deep carving, usually depicts dragon or lotus flower motif, two inch deep or more.
Kashmiri carpets are world famous for two things - they are hand made and knotted. Carpet weaving was not indigenous but is thought to have come from Persia. Designs are mostly Persian with local variations. The color schemes differentiate Kashmiri carpets from other carpets. The colors are subtle and muted. The knotting of a carpet is the most important aspect in carpet weaving. In addition to the design of the carpet, the knots per square inch determine the durability and the value of a carpet.
Stretched tightly on a frame is the warp of a carpet. The weft threads are passed through, the "talim" or design and color specifications are worked on this. A strand of yarn is looped through the warp and weft, knotted and then cut. The yarn used normally is silk, wool, or silk and wool. Woolen carpets always have a cotton base (warp & weft) and silk carpets usually have cotton base otherwise silk is used.
Far less expensive than carpets are these colorful floor coverings made from woolen and cotton fibers. The fibers are manually pressed into shape. Chain stitch embroidery in wool or cotton is worked on these rugs.
Chain stitch, be it in wool, silk or cotton is done by hook rather than a needle. The hook is referred as an "ari"; it covers a much larger area than needlework in the same amount of time and has the same quality. All the embroidery is executed on white cotton fabric, pre-shrunk by the manufactures. Tiny stitches are used to cover the entire area, the figures or motifs are worked in striking colors, the background in a single color comprising of series of coin sized concentric circles. These circles impart dynamism and a sense of movement to the design. This work is usually used for making wall hangings.
Crewelwork is similar to chain stitch, but here motifs are mainly stylized flowers which do not cover the entire area. Wool is invariably used in crewelwork and color is not as elaborate as chain stitch work. The fabric is available in bolts and makes good household furnishing.
There are two fibers from which Kashmiri shawls are made – wool and pashmina. Wool woven in Kashmir is known as "raffel" and is 100% pure wool. Many kinds of embroidery are worked on these shawls. First, "Sozni" is generally done in panels along the sides of the shawl. Motifs, usually abstract designs or stylized paisleys and flowers are worked in one or two, occasionally three colors. The stitch employed in not unlike stem stitch, only the outline of the design is embroidered. Sozni is often done so skillfully that the motif appears on both sides, each having different colors. Second, "Papier-Mache" is either done in broad panels on either side of the breadth of a shawl, or covers entire surface of a stole. Flowers and leaves are worked in satin stitch in different colors and each motif is outlined in black. Third, ari work is also done on shawls.
Pashmina is unmistakable for its softness. Pashmina yarn is spun from hair of Ibex found at 14,000 ft above sea level. It is on Pashmina shawls that Kashmir's most exquisite embroidery is worked, sometimes the entire surface, earning the name of "Jamawar." Not all pashmina shawls have such lavish work done on them; some are embroidered on a narrow panel bordering all four sides, others in narrow strips running diagonally through the shawl.
This garment is somewhere between coat and a cloak. It is eminently suited to the Kashmiri way of life, being loose enough to admit the inevitable brazier of live coals. Men's pherans are usually made of tweed or coarse wool, women's pherans are somewhat stylized, made from raffel with splashes of ari work around the edges.
A display of souvenirs made out of walnut wood
Carving is a demonstration of the carver's skill; walnut being one of the strongest varieties of wood is eminently suitable for carving and is found in Kashmir. There are several varieties of carving. Deep carving, usually depicts dragon or lotus flower motif, two inch deep or more. Shallow carving, half an inch deep open to lattice work done all over the surface. Semi carving, a thin panel around the rim of the surface, with perhaps a center motif. The advantage of semi carving is that it allows the grain of the wood to be displayed