Kashmir is renowned for its handicrafts ranging from woodcarving, paper Mache, embroidery etc. Woodcarving is one of the most important cottage industries in Kashmir.


Walnut wood is very soft, so carving out intricate and beautiful designs on it is facilitated. The wood is hard and durable, it’s close grain and even texture facilitating fine and detailed work. Walnut is a highly ornamental tree, and delicate craft process is unique to the Jammu and Kashmir region.It is one of the few places in the world where walnut is still available at an altitude of 5500-7500 ft. above sea level. Locally known as Doon Kul, a walnut tree is cut only once it matures at an age of 300 years. Wood can be used from the roots, trunk, and even its branches. The wood from the roots is the most expensive as it is the hardest of them all and best for carving.


Beautiful vine and chinar leaves, roses and lotus flowers are carved out on soft walnut wood. Wood carving is done on furniture-sofas, beds, cabinets etc as well on window panes, doors, ceilings , walls and even on floors. One of the most popular woodcarving designs is khatambandh which is mostlt done to adorn ceilings and walls. 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.


Walnut carving is 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.


Medium and smallscale industries like wood carving provide employment to large number of people. These artisans are also tools to preserve our traditions and culture. The wood carving cottage industry will flourish with greater governmental support in terms of credit availability, greater marketization, promotional schemes etc. which is the need of the hour for “Sabka Vikash”.


This article talks about the traditional handicraft industry of Kashmir. Wood carving has become a symbol of Kashmiri pride more so after it getting the recognition of Geographical Indications registry.

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