The carpet industry is as important as are the tourism and horticulture industries in Kashmir. The carpet industry of Kashmir has its origin in Persia. The carpets made in Kashmir were largely influenced by Persian motifs. However, in the 16th and 17th centuries, artisans in Kashmir began giving specialized touches to the carpets produced in the region, giving them a distinctive character of their own. The Kashmir carpet industry has emerged as a specialized industry, providing a livelihood to a significant portion of the people residing in the area. Other than its natural beauty and the shawl and sweater industry, Kashmir is very well known for its carpet industry. The Kashmiri carpet is a product that has captured the hearts of people the world over, mainly on account of their intricate designs and their durability. Apart from the traditional use of the Kashmiri carpet as a covering for the floor, it serves some other uses too, like that of a wall hanging or as bedding. The art of carpet weaving in Kashmir has been passed on from one generation to another, with most of the weavers still preferring to hand-weave the carpets rather than use a mechanized process. The process of production of certain carpets having rather intricate designs has been known to go on for long periods of time, sometimes as long as 3 years. Kashmiri carpets are traditionally made either from silk or from wool. Sometimes, a combination of wool and silk is used. Artisans are nowadays making use of mercerized cotton for the production of these carpets. The base of these carpets is made either from cotton or silk. Kashmiri carpets are comparatively more expensive on account of the materials used (wool and silk) as well as the elaborate production process involved. The price of a Kashmiri carpet ranges from Rs. 500 to Rs. 50000, depending upon the design and the material used. The use of mercerized cotton by artisans began as a measure to curb the prices of these carpets. In spite of their higher price, Kashmiri crafts are treated as an investment because of their unique qualities. The tree of life is a design that is very commonly found on Kashmiri carpets. Flowers and trees as well as other motifs inspired by the natural beauty of Kashmir are also largely found on carpets made here. The process of production of a Kashmiri carpet is long and laborious, involving a number of steps such as cultivation of silk or wool, treating and dyeing it, deciding the pattern of the carpet, weaving and then adding the final touches. The person who designs the carpet is called Nakaash in Kashmir, while the weaver and the person who does the dyeing are called Kalimba and Ranger respectively.
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