Srinagar, Nov 25: Ghulam Rasool Khan, a master artisan and lone expert in patchwork Jamawar shawl weaving, advises youth to learn traditional crafts rather than waiting for Government jobs because handmade goods from Kashmir are in high demand and fetch good prices.
Khan, a resident of Srinagar’s old city, was given the prestigious Padmashree Award in 2021 for reviving the 700-year-old patchwork Jamawar art form. He has reintroduced this forgotten art of shawl-making and wants to pass it on to the next generation so that it can continue for the next five centuries.
This type of shawl-making needs a lot of work, time, and specialized knowledge; thus, it has been lost throughout the years. He is a master craftsman known for his work in many Jamawar styles, including Sozni, Kani, and patchwork, but he rose to international prominence by resurrecting the patchwork Jamawar technique.
“When I was in Jaipur, my father showed me some of these shawls, and they immediately struck my eye. When I asked my father why they are not created nowadays, he said that they take a lot of time and effort and require a specialized talent that is not common today. I made the decision to try my hand at it right away and was successful,” he said.
According to him, the shawl was created during a period when he was unable to walk due to an accident in Delhi. “After that, I was invited to the Handicraft Department in 2001, where I displayed my shawl to several of the visitors, who were in awe of it,” he said.
The term “Jamawar” describes a certain kind of fabric that is unique in the way it is woven. Many Pashmina patches are sewn together to create the patchwork Jamawar shawl, which has a uniform appearance. A unique floral pattern known as the Jamawar design resembles the mango fruit.
Khan emphasized the essential elements of a Jamawar shawl and mentioned that a significant element in shawl manufacture is the colour scheme. He said the various colours of the patches should merge in a pleasing way and patches are coloured using natural dyes.
He urged the Government to establish a place where artisans could both sell and manufacture their goods. “The people who weave shawls ought to spend their days in a workshop from sunrise till night, exactly like people do in other offices. We will be able to produce more as a result of this rising productivity. I’ve previously brought up this with the authorities and a hopeful,” he said.
Khan received the State Award in 2003 for creating a Jamawar shawl with 64 pieces as compared to the usual 34. He received a national award in 2006 for replicating the 700-year-old Jamawar shawl. He received the Shilp Guru Award in 2012 from Pranab Mukherjee, the president at the time, in recognition of his creation of the 364-piece New Jamawar Shawl. For preserving the oldest style of Kashmiri shawl technique, he was given the prestigious Padmashree award in 2021.