Srinagar: A 66-year-old artist from Srinagar district has won the prestigious Padma Shri award, the country’s fourth-highest civilian award, for his exemplary contribution to the Kashmiri Handicraft.
Haji Gh Rasool Khan, a resident of Rehmania Colony in Jogiwan Amda Kadal, who is also chairman of All J&K Shilp Guru National Award and Artisans Society has so far won many prestigious awards for his art work.
Khan said he has been associated with handicrafts since his childhood as his ancestors were also earning livelihood by remaining associated with the same art.
In 1998, Khan met with an accident in Delhi and his movement remained confined in a room for years. During that time he spent more time on Pashmina work.
“Handicraft is a work of patience and most people lack that patience,” he said.
Khan said for 5 years, he worked on a 64 piece shawl along with his men who were learning the art from him.
“After showing this piece to foreign designers through the handicraft department they recommended my name for state as well as for national award,” Khan said, adding that he got both the awards in 2003.
After 5 years, Khan was selected for the Shilip Guru national award for Pashmina art work.
“Later I made a 360 piece shawl in six years and received several awards,” he said.
Khan said that he is very happy for getting the Padma Shri Award as it is the recognition of his work. However, he said, Kashmir craft art is dying and the government must take steps at an earliest to save it.
“Lot of things have to be done to keep the art alive. And I want to remain healthy to do so. Craft art is unique. It is a gift of Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (RA) to us, the coming generation should also think about keeping it alive,” he said.
Khan said he has taught the handicraft art to over 500 people, however, the government must also come forward to save the art.
“There is a need to open institutions where master craft will be taught to aspiring people. There is a need to open showrooms at important markets of India where customers can purchase products directly,” he said. “There is also a need to organize programmes at different stages to educate people about Kashmiri art work and how it is different from others, so that shawls from other states or countries can’t be sold on the name of Kashmiri Shawl.” (KNO)