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Home » Handicrafts Of Kashmir » Wood Carving Of Kashmir

Wood Carving Of Kashmir

Wood Carving Of Kashmir

Wood Carving Of Kashmir 

Kashmir is the only part of India where the walnut tree grows. Its colour, grains and inherent sheen are unique and unmistakable, and the carving and fret- work that is done on this wood is of a very superior quality.

Items made from walnut wood come from three parts of the tree - the branches, the trunk and the root. The branches have the palest colour of wood, and the trunk the darkest. The branches have no veins, while the trunks have the strongest marked veins. Objects made out of the root will be the costliest because of the wood used. As walnut is a soft wood, it takes carving very well. Chinar leaves, vine leaves and flowers can be either carved along borders or can fill entire surfaces. The artistry of the carving and its abundance dictates the cost. Trinket boxes and the larger jewellery boxes should have invisible seams. Other walnut wood objects are salad bowls, nut bowls, photo frames, trays and furniture, which range from simple telephone tables to elaborate dining tables with six chairs.

In the case of furniture, the price is dictated by the thickness of wood used. Two very similar writing desks cost differently, if 3/4" wood has been used for one and the 1/2" wood for the other. The difference is barely discernible to the un- trained eye, but no dealer will sell precious root wood, 3/4" thick for the same price as his competitor who has economized on the quality and quantity of wood for a cheaper product.

Carved walnut wood-work is among the most important crafts of Kashmir. Kashmir is now one of the few places in the world where walnut is still available at an altitude of 5500-7500 feet above see level. The wood is hard and durable, its close grain and even texture facilitating fine and detailed work. It also presents visually interesting effects with mere plain polished surfaces in fact in contemporary products, plain surfaces and small carvings are preferred, especially on trays, tables, bowls and similar items.

The Kashmir craftsman, however, rejoices in carving intricate and varied designs. A variety of carved products bear recurrent motifs of the rose, lotus, iris, bunches of grapes, pears and chinar leaves. Dragon motifs and patterns taken from kani and embroidered shawls all find their place in wooden objects with deep relief carving. A variety of articles, both decorative and utilitarian, ranging from small items like bowls, trays, cigarette boxes, wall plaques and table lamps to screens, bedsteads and larger items of furniture are carved in walnut wood. Four main types of carving are usually practised in Kashmir-raised, engraved, undercut and plain. The carving of furniture and smaller items is an elaborate process and involves high degree of skill and craftsmanship. The carving is done with the help of small indigenous tools. The art of wood carving is centred in the city of Srinagar.

 
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