I travel to different places in search of their local craft.
I was fortunate to witness the exquisite handmade carpets in making, and then one of the oldest manufacturers of Walnut Wood furniture and other products.
Walnut wood carving is an ornamental craft process that is virtually unique to Kashmir due to the concentration of walnut trees (Junglas regia), locally known as dun or akhrot, in this region.
The Walnut Wood Carving work has been protected under the Geographical indication (GI) of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. It is listed at item 182 as “Kashmir Walnut Wood Carving” of the GI Act 1999 of the Government of India with registration confirmed by the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks.
Kashmir is now one of the few places in the world where walnut is still available at an altitude of 5500-7500 feet above sea level. The wood is hard and durable, its close grain and even texture facilitating fine and detailed work.
Pahalgam and Sonmarg in Kashmir are homes to some of the oldest groves.
The naqqash, Master Carver, first etches the basic pattern on to the wood and then removes the unwanted areas with the help of chisels and a wooden mallet so that the design emerges from the lustrous walnut wood as an embossed surface.
There are several varieties of carving technique that are utilized – deep carving that is two inches or so deep and is usually used for dragon and flower motifs; shallow carving, half inches deep and done all over flat surfaces; open or lattice work, usually depicting the chinar motif; and the semi-carving technique which renders a thin panel along the rim of the surface which is ornamented by a central motif alone.
The advantage of this technique is that it allows the grain of the wood to be displayed to maximum advantage while exhibiting the carver`s skill.
The craft was initially restricted to the creation of elaborate palaces and houses.
Written records tell of Zain-ul-Abadin`s great razdani, palace, and its elaborate wood carvings.
To this date, several fine examples of intricately carved buildings, shrines and mausoleums survive in Kashmir – the shrines of Noor-ud-din-Wali at Charar-e-Sharif, the Naqshaband mosque and the shrine of Nund Rishi are just a few of them.
Contemporary products, however include ladles, boxes, bowls, trays, sandals and spinning wheels.
Hand run lathes have been utilized to speed the production process.
Chaku family is one the oldest manufacturers of Walnut Wood furniture and their products are available all over India through craft emporiums.
You can connect with them on Facebook:
CHAKU Crafts Emporium
Or check them out on YouTube:
If you want to read more about Walnut Wood Carving, read this wonderful article on gaatha.com
Last but not the least, check out what all I bought for myself from there.
Have a fun weekend.