Srinagar’s Namda man gives new twist to dying craft

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Kashmiri artisan, Farooq Ahmed with Kashmiri traditional art with Australia's nuno felting technique and created unique products found nowhere in the world in Srinagar on Tuesday. UNI PHOTO

Jahangeer Ganaie

Kashmir’s lone Nuno felting artisan is blending traditional art with Australian technology to give a modern look to Namda.

Namda, a rug made of wool was introduced in Kashmir during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar and used as flooring during winters in Kashmir. But over the years, the demand for Namda declined with a few craftspersons left now.

Among them, Farooq Ahmad Khan of Khanqah-e-Sokhta in Safa Kadal’s Srinagar, an old hand, has incorporated the technique to come up with new designs of Namda so that it can introduce life to the dying art.

Khan told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that he learnt the craft grandparents and his parents.

“Majority of artisans have already left the craft due to low market demand. It took me years together to learn Nuno felting, which is a fabric felting technique used to press loose fibres, usually sheep`s wool, into soft fabrics such as silk. This technique has an Australian origin,” said Khan, who is the lone Namda artisan in his area which was once home to scores of artisans.

The combination of traditional art with Nuno technique has brought the latest form of traditional Namda besides silk carpets and other articles, he said.

“With new designs and combination of Nuno felting, it has started to get a name again and our products are being purchased in different markets of India,” Khan added.

He said that genuine craftspeople are facing problems in seeking registration from the Handicrafts department while people who do not know any art are getting support as well as registration.

A three time recipient of state awards, the Namda artisan said that the aim behind the technique is to infuse new life in this dying art.

Khan claimed that he is the only artist in entire India who uses the new technology as he believes it needs patience and hard work, which is quite rare these days.

“I want people to learn the art along with new techniques so that with my death, the art won’t die,” he added—(KNO)

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