Raja Syed Rather
Ganderbal, Dec 3: Willow work, a well-known art in Kashmir is slowly fading away, as many artisans associated with the industry are switching to other jobs to earn their livelihood.
Willow, species of tree also known as Shallows, are found in a Shalbug village of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. Shalabug, which won the title of Model Village back in 2002, nearly 6000 people depend on willow, work to earn a living.
Willow work is totally based on handwork, only hands are used to make beautiful and worthy products. The willow production has an attractive face value which makes it a precious not only here in local markets but also exported to foreign countries.
Willow is mainly used to make baskets, kangri and ornaments which are usually presented as gifts on weddings, anniversaries and other occasions. It also highlights Kashmiri culture.
Mushtaq Ahmed, a willow dealer said that they used to make hundred sets and export it, due to lockdown and Covid pandemic, the business has taken a massive hit.
Mushtaq said that being the oldest craft, it is unfortunate that the Government hasn’t yet provided any scheme or help to the artisans associated with it.
Ghulam Muhammad, an artisan, said that Covid-19 has negatively impacted their work as they aren’t able to export their products to the other states of India.
“Due to negligence on the government’s part, the profession is dying. Our new generation is not keen to carry forward this craft. Government should intervene to save this craft,” he said.
Due to industrialization, burgeoning growth in substitute products, rapid changes in consumer tastes, a paucity of attention, the handicraft like willow work in the state has lost its place in the market—(KNO)