For the first time in decades Kashmir-made willow wicker items are gaining popularity all across the world after adopting new look and modern designs.
58-year-old Bashir Ahmad Dar, who is running “Shaaksaz Willow Wicker Craft Producer Company limited” at Peerpora in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal District started in 2020, claimed that wicker willow is presently yielding good revenue for the artisans.
“Yes, after the third G20 Tourism Working Group meeting held here in May 2023 we were one of the artisans who participated and displayed a number of newly designed items which were praised by the national as well as international delegates during the exhibition. They picked up some pieces with them and hopefully we will get big orders in near future,” Bashir said.
He said G20 meet gives a flip to the wicker willow and it has gained popularity all across the globe.
He said so far no foreign orders have yet been received but customers from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and other states are sending their orders online and even some visiting our unit here in Ganderbal.
He said the artisans are so busy with the weaving of the wicker items that they hardly get time to relax.
Bashir said, ” Presently we are busy completing the order received through the aid of the World Bank to one of our customers in Kolkata”.
He said that the designers are visiting us from Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata and we are preparing similar items for this project. “The new designs provided a new lease of life to the wicker willow craft of Kashmir all across the world”, he claimed.
He said “we are preparing Fruit baskets, Bread baskets, Picnic baskets, Lamp shades, Dock baskets, Cat baskets, Flower baskets, besides there are hundreds of designs in wicker willow available with us for export to various places in the country.
He said as a new change in the wicker willow baskets and other items we used leather handles and flap zip chains in many items that were admired by the customers.
Bashir’s forefathers were associated with the wicker willow craft and he is carrying forward it for the past 35 years weaving wicker willow items. He said the raw material is available here in the Ganderbal district itself.
“Our children are highly trained and also making wicker willow craft items to take it to the new heights, ” he said and added “we have trained 10 youth who became masters in the wicker willow craft who are working on more than 150 new designs”. He said about 10,000 families are dependent on this craft work.
He said that the good news is that the new generation is presently undergoing the training of making wicker willow items from us.
Bashir said that the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir are providing all necessary support and help to us to exhibit our products at various places outside the state also.
Earlier limited items were being exported to other parts of the country as well to the world, but presently there are hundreds of wicker items of Kashmir made exporting to the world, he added.
Willow Wicker Craft, locally known as “Keani Keam”, is a hand-skilled craft from Kashmir involving weaving using willow reeds.
Willow weaving is an indigenous business industry of the valley. While products from other crafts are mostly used for decorative purposes, the peculiarity of this craft lies in the fact that a willow product serves both as a decor and a household utility item to store and carry edible things during special occasions.