The valley nestled in the majestic Himalayas whose natural beauty has been a source of artistic inspiration ever since the first set of eyes gazed upon the verdant landscape. That inspiration has found its way into all aspects of Kashmiri art including the pen of the poet composing subtle verses, the tip of a painters brush, the needle of a skilled embroidery artisan, and the carving knife of a master woodworker. As some have said, nature speaks through the Kashmiri artists; it is the aesthetic that drives the Kashmiri artistic ethos.

Most traditional design motifs reflect this love of the natural in the form of flowing and vibrant patterns of interlocking designs which have a rhythmic quality to them.  The chinar (Kashmiri Maple) leaf, blooming flowers (water lillies, irises, saffron), nightingales, almonds, cashews, and of course the paisley are some examples of nature that figure prominently in motifs. The genius of Kashmiri artisans has been their ability to not just capture the physical beauty of nature in their work, but impart some of the metaphysical; some would say mystical, qualities as well.

While the natural breath-taking scenery has been a major source of inspiration for artists, a key factor for the distinctive handicraft tradition that has developed in Kashmir is that the valley has been a cross roads for numerous cultures. Like tributaries, each culture, Persian, Afghan, Indian, Mughal, Uzbek, Tibetan, Chinese (among others) added to the indigenous Kashmiri artistic river. Kashmiri handicrafts thus reflect a tradition that is uniquely Kashmiri, while being a natural synthesis of many influences.

There are several handicrafts that have a long history in the valley including rug making, metal work and intricate wood carving. Two of the most legendary-and unique-are embroidery and paper mache.

Quintessentially Kashmiri

Recycled beauty

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