Art & Cultural Centre ‘Artisane’ organises Karigar-e-Zaman, felicitates 3 master craftsmen

Srinagar: The Artisane – Art & Cultural Centre, an off-shoot of the house of Ali Shah, on Saturday organised a rare felicitation programme, Karigar-E-Zaman, at Tangmarg’s Kunzer to put a spotlight on the invisible hands and little-known faces behind the master pieces created over decades in Kashmir.
“Karigar-E-Zaman is an attempt to celebrate master craftspeople and their contribution to the art and craft of Kashmir. Karigar-E-Zaman is the story of heights achieved by our artisans and the little acknowledgement. It is to give recognition to the unsung heroes rightly called as Karigar-E-Zaman meaning master craftspeople of our times and to debunk the false story of our decline. Their felicitation is the beginning of a new dawn and new success story for Kashmir’s art,” said Mehboob Iqbal Shah representing Artisane – Art & Cultural Centre.
Artisane – Art & Cultural Centre’s other co-founders Arif Shah and Adil Shah were also present on the occasion.
The felicitation session was attended by Mr. Mahmood Shah, Director, Handicrafts and Handloom Kashmir,
Dr Javid Ahmad Wani, Director NIFT, Srinagar;
and Saleem Beg, Convener Head, INTACH J&K chapter.
“Our craftspeople drive the glorious heritage and aesthetics alongwith with values of our family and we honour their unparalleled skill and effort by providing them a platform to rejuvenate and showcase their masterpieces. ARTISANE – Art & Cultural Centre is putting in unalloyed effort in creating signature hand-made artefacts for more than a century, a legacy true to its name,” Iqbal Shah said.
He also expressed his gratitude to the guests for their presence in this initiative by Artisane – Art & Cultural Centre, where the aim is to celebrate and glorify the spirit of craftspeople; our unsung heroes and continue to safeguard the art and artisans in our own small way, so that it stays our meeras for future generations to take pride in.
Master craftspeople, who have been dedicated to multiple crafts that are unique to Kashmir, also showcased their works, which were reflective of the ethos and sublime sensibilities honed over the centuries by the place. These craftspeople shared their stories of passion, dedication and motivation to keep Kashmir at the top of the craft ladder not only in the country but across the world. The artisans recollected and narrated stories of being part of Karkhans, the famous weaving centre Karkhan is the place where the interaction happens. Artisans come to Artisane – Art & Cultural Centre and work at Karkhana all day long. For them, it’s a work space where they also interact with visiting buyers.
The three master Artisans who are associated with art & craft since long were felicitated on the occassion.
Aslam Ahmad, who has worked as a sozni artisan for over 50 years, said, “Our family has been associated with the craft for centuries. Our forefathers handed over the knowledge and we have passed it on to the next generation”.
Nazeer Ahmad, a carpet weaver from Rainwari, said, “I was in Class 2 when I started working as a weaver. I was able to marry off my two sisters and four brothers from the money earned from the craft. My children are in school and also have respect for the craft.”
Altaf Ahmad, a carpet darner for over 30 years from Srinagar’s Zadibal , said, “This craft has earned me livelihood. We were looked down upon at one point of time. The same has changed now because of the government schemes introduced to promote artisans.”
There are many unsung heroes in the craft sector of Kashmir besides those who were felicitated for their contribution today. Such encouragement is the need of the hour. The handcrafts department is also reviving craft tours to take artisans closer to buyers. Geographical Indication (GI) tagging has come a long way to ensure that one line of quality is maintained. It has also revived buyers’ confidence,” said Mahmood Shah, Director, Handicrafts and Handloom on the occasion.
“It’s rare to see artisans and marketing teams sitting next to each other in Kashmir. Felicitations of master craftsmen is a good beginning. Artisane has been able to create a friendly space, which was very much required. Spaces like Artisane – Art & Cultural Centre will promote artisans and add value to the products too. The spiritual connect of artisans towards the Kashmiri craft is the hallmark. These artisans see these crafts on the lines of Ibaadah (prayers). They also lay the foundation of our identity as people and place. The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) can play a great role in filling the creative gap. The institute can act as a new interface. Professionals from the NIFT have to step in and play their role in the craft story of Kashmir,” said Convener head INTACH&K. Saleem Beg.
A live demonstration of hand-made products like Kani and Pashmina shawls, silk carpets, papier machie products, minute sozni, embroidery work and carved walnut woodwork was the highlight of the occasion.
It has recently started their initiative Pouchar (harnessing) titled “each one teach one” to support and recognise the artisans for their skill and creativity.
Artisane – Art & Cultural has pledged to extend hand holding to a group of craftswomen to teach their craft to at least one person and a stipend will be provided to the persons who learn the craft. The “Karigar- e-Zaman (master craftspeople)” will now be an annual event of celebration of the master artisans, their lives and stories.

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