Since times immemorial, Kashmir is known for its handicrafts all over the world. During the long, harsh winters the people of this beautiful vale wouldn’t sit idle, instead would utilize their time for preparing different kinds of articrafts that would attract the tourists and win accolades for the Artisans. Pashmina shawls, paper machi products, wood carving and other handicrafts were so common in Kashmir that every household in the valley would indulge in preparation of these artifacts. By doing this, our people would use their leisure time for a constructive purpose and in return it would get them some income as well.
There was a time when the tourists, especially the foreigners, would flock around the shops selling the handicrafts and slowly and steadily it became a very profitable profession for many of the artisans. Then came the dark period of political and social insecurities and tourist flow, especially of the foreigners dropped significantly. With the fall in the tourist influx, our artisans started feeling the heat and almost all of them either changed their profession or were marred by the debts and low income. Our handicraft industry started to shrink and this was devastating for many of us across the valley.
This year, the tourist influx was recorded as the highest in the last seventy years and this has infused a new life into our handicrafts industry and there are chances that we may be able to revive it again. Government of Jammu and Kashmir has already framed a policy to give boost to the handicrafts sector of Jammu and Kashmir and under this policy training and other necessary help is being provided to the interested artisans to give a new lease of life to our culture and cultural heritage. It is high time that we realize the importance of our handicrafts sector and try to utilize the leisure time in winters in reviving the age old traditions of weaving Pashmina Shawls and other artifacts so that we could serve this traditional art, besides earning some income.