Handicrafts Shopping: Souvenirs From Jammu & Kashmir

The art and craft scene of Jammu & Kashmir is as diverse and beautiful as its topography. And the culture of each of the state’s three regions — Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir — is beautifully reflected in its handicrafts. Sarah Merchant, a self-confessed shopaholic, narrows down all popular handicrafts in the state to help you decide the best pick on your Ladakh glamping holiday with The Ultimate Travelling Camp!

The splendid waterfront homes in Kashmir

The splendid waterfront homes in Kashmir are a sight to behold

Handicrafts Of Jammu & Kashmir

A lot of Central Asian influences, such as carpet weaving and papier-mache, can be found in the state’s craft. This is because rulers in the past brought with them competent master craftsmen from Samarkhand to train the locals. The Kashmiri apprentices then became so proficient in their skill that their fame spread to the rest of the world. Tibetan influences too can be seen in the crafts, particularly from Ladakh, due to the close proximity. So while you’re on your TUTC glamping getaway, make sure you add some time to browse through and pick up some of these souvenirs!

#1 Weaves: Baskets, Shawls & Carpet

Weaving is an integral part of life across the state, especially in Ladakh. Each tribe and culture has its own style and choice of craft — be it basket, carpet or shawl weaving. For instance, in the Rupshu area of Ladakh, each family weaves a distinctive design on a loom, which has been passed down through generations. Women who can’t weave are not considered ideal brides.

And who can forget the opulent carpets of Kashmir, the jewel of the state’s handicraft treasure chest. Carpet weaving assumed a different shape under each ruler that ruled the state – from the Central Asian styles prevalent during the era of Zain-ul-abidin to the Persian knot favoured by the Mughal emperor Jahangir. Today, these carpets cost a couple of lakh upwards, due to intricate craftsmanship and quality of material put in, but they are worth the price. These fabulous items make a great conversation point and serve as reminders of your gorgeous holiday with TUTC.

Equally coveted are the shawls made from shahtoosh, pashmina and wool and bearing the exquisite Sozni motifs. Pure pashmina, spun from the hair of the ibex, is extremely expensive, and the fibre is usually mixed with wool to bring the costs down. Shahtoosh is today a banned material and it’s illegal to possess a shawl made from it.

A Tibetan girl dressed in her clan’s weaves

On your glamping holiday in Ladakh, you’re sure to see such Tibetan girls dressed in their clan’s weaves!

#2 Crewel Work

Vibrant phirans are not just known for their warmth, but also for the beautiful crewel work that adorns the garment. They’re also perfect to keep you cosy on chilly Ladakh nights, spent under the stars at TUTC. Crewels, similar to chain stitches, are created using a pointed hook to form an exquisite floral design, which has come to be synonymous with the state. Be it on woollen phirans or furnishings, crewel work can be seen on several significant items in a Kashmiri household.

The elegant crewel work done on kurtis

The elegant crewel work done on kurtis are beautiful; these also make for great souvenirs from Ladakh!

#3 Pashmina Shawls

A Pashmina Shawl is something that every human would want. The people weave it using traditional methods and not modern machinery. What makes these shawls so special is the trademark wool of the pashmina sheep, which is six times finer than the human hair. The fine shawl brings great warmth to the one who drapes it around the body, making it a great for glamping in the Himalayas!

A model displays an exquisite Pashmina shawl

A model displays an exquisite Pashmina shawl, which is a must-buy item when you’re exploring Ladakh!

#4 Basholi Paintings

Located in the Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, on the banks of the ancient Ravi, the town of Basohli was once a thriving centre for arts and culture. Under the patronage of Raja Bhupat Pal, in the mid-1600s, Basohli gave birth to the first school of Pahari paintings. Today, these miniature paintings can be found in most major museums across the world. Known for vigorous, bold and imaginative styles and marked by the use of primary colours and unique facial characteristics, the Basohli school of art later evolved into the Kangra style of painting.

A magnificent Basholi painting depicts Lord Krishna and Radha in conversation.

A magnificent Basholi painting depicts Lord Krishna and Radha in conversation.

#5 Wood Carving

One of the best known art forms in India, wood carving is particularly a favourite craft with the locals due to the proliferation of walnut trees in the state. Walnut wood carvings don’t just look beautiful but are known for their strength and durability. In native language, this art form is called Khatam Band and the techniques used are intricate and are usually passed down through generations.

An intricately carved Kashmiri walnut-wood box

When in Ladakh, look out for treasures like this intricately carved Kashmiri walnut-wood box

#6 Carpets

With a distinctive Persian influence, Kashmiri carpets are the most expensive handicraft form in Kashmir, and are definitely an investment of a lifetime. An important element is the Tree of Life in the centre, which is typical of Kashmiri design.

The absolutely gorgeous Kashmiri carpets

The absolutely gorgeous Kashmiri carpets you find in and around Ladakh are a treat for the eyes!

Go souvenir-shopping and uncover only the best of Jammu & Kashmir, when you’re glamping with us! Join us in our two exclusive Ladakh luxury camps and get ready for memories that last a lifetime.

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We set up luxury tents in Nagaland from November 29 to December 12, to coincide with the dates of the Hornbill festival. We are also even operational in Ladakh from the May 15 to October 10, so book yourself a glamping experience in the Himalayan mountains. Or delve into the hidden secrets of the wild, in the forest reserves of Dudhwa at The Jaagir Lodge from 19 December 2017 to 15 June 2018  call +91 801 090 2222 or write to us at info@tutc.com.

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