During the winter months, Kashmir receives a plentiful of snowfall every year. The snowfall in the Himalayan region of Kashmir is seen differently by different kinds of people. While it brings joy to some folk especially among youngsters, it adds worries to a population suffering from multiple diseases and those who live in thatched houses. The attraction for snowfall through teenagers out of comfort zones to beat the snow and push back the old person to hot dark cells. For art lovers, it is the best time to show their talent and receive praises from all sections of the people.
The Popular Snowman of Kashmir:
The art of making a snowman is a very old artistic creation in Kashmir. The snowman in the Kashmiri language is known as ‘Shin Mahniv’. Though we don’t know much about the history of this art in Kashmir it may be appraised that this art flourished for many generations. In the world context, Bob Eckstein in his book “The History of the Snowman” traces its history back to medieval times. The dubious history of snow art would not impair its growing popularity. For many years now this art has achieved new heights. Social media is full of artistic depictions of snow art which receive likes and comments in thousands. People don’t hesitate in sharing the art of beautiful artists of Kashmir on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The favorite ones are kept as Display pictures.
From Snowball to Masterpiece:
Kashmir valley is full of artists. Nowadays snow artists across the valley are busy displaying their valuable artistic skills. Snowman remained a popular theme for many generations. Even today with the introduction of new themes people are still crazy building snowmen with new changes as well. The snowman usually consists of three parts, head, body, and lower part but sometimes we see the third part missing. While making snowman people make use of different things that are locally available such as sticks for arms to hold snow; charcoal for eyes, beard, and coloring, etc. To give strength to the snowman some people spread ashes to the whole figure. People also dress them in adorable clothes such as hats, caps, scarves, gloves, spectacles, etc. Sometimes they are dressed in pheran along with the famous Kashmiri skull cap representing the Kashmiri culture. With different postures and expressions, the snowman presents pleasant looks. Making a snowman is very easy but erecting a perfect snowman is a difficult task. It tests the patience of its builder.
Introduction of New Themes in the Art:
The snow art no longer remains confined to building snowmen only. Though snowman will continue as an all-time favorite, the art will expand its base with passing times. The snow art comprises a wide range of things such as building Igloos, tunnels, snowman, vehicles, different animals and birds, etc. The inquisitive minds introduce new features to this art year after year. The legacy will continue with the use of new features along with old practices. The life of the snow made things is very short. It can’t survive for more than a week. With the increase in temperature, it starts melting and change its form from solid to liquid. But the essence of art will always remain fresh in our memories. It draws a permanent mark in our minds. Also, beautifully captured moments of this art will keep it alive and guide future artists in multiple ways.
The Vale of Talented Artists:
This art is not specified to a particular age group. The soft snow provides an opportunity for everyone to give better chance to one’s luck. The elderly population and children can equally take part in this activity. Even the soft hands of kids who can’t hold cups straight try to make perfect snowballs. Those who are best in calligraphy can use snow as canvas and draw beautiful ’snow calligraphy’. Snow art in Kashmir is not limited to a few persons only. We see from north to south there are thousands of true snow artists spread all over the valley floor. The time has come to identify these artists and value their work so they can bring laurels to the valley. The talented artists from the valley have the potential to represent Kashmir internationally.
The government must encourage snow art by organizing competitions and distributing prizes. There is a need to display and preserve the pictures of this art in separate art galleries. Furthermore to train the growing buds in this form of art the authority must employ talented artists at the district level especially for the winter season. In this way, the art will spread its wings to rule in the next epoch.
~Syed Aamir Sharief Qadri hails from Kaprin, Shopian, J&K.