SRINAGAR:To its discredit, handicraft business is wearing off its sheen and effect due to alteration in it leads to the deterioration of Kashmiri precious cultural heritage. Machine-made goods encroaching upon hand-made artifacts are seen biggest challenge to handicraft industry.
Entrepreneurs decry the loss of business venture due to manufacturing process in craft production. They have sought to ensure the maintenance of transparency and originality of production.
Mohammad Sadiq Wani, a handicraft dealer, expressed dismay over it, “There is a downward trend in sales marketing of handicraft products owing to outsiders intrusion into handicraft industry here. These foreign elements use machinery in producing crafted works of art. They manufacture products resorting to machine techniques, prepare artificial material and dishonestly cheat customers”.
Wani runs Sadiq enterprises showroom, he has mainly two handicraft products on sale: Shawl embroidery and Chain Stitch and ensured them of handmade.
“ We have handmade products of best craft expertise with quality work on them. If a dealer deals with the handicraft business, he should sell product on his own strength of quality so to earn customers trust”, he said.
On the prize mark of machine-done works outsiders sell here, he said, “it is not that customers buy their products in that of low cost but these elements manufacture works of varied colours and designs; tad products as Pashmina, semi-pashmina in fact are of low quality”.
Situated in the capital of the valley, the government central market is the main hub of the enterprise which comprises of hundred more shops dealing in handicraft, dry fruits, and jewelry.
Sheikh Shabir, owner Para shawl house in the market expressed his concern, “Alteration in handicraft works has dented the image of the cultural property. This is the only source of income for we dealers here. The significance handicraft used to have and a customer’s trust on hand-made products has gone to low ebb since the importation of ‘fake handicrafts’ from Amritsar, India”,
The products they deal with include Saries, Shawls, Suits, Ferans, Bed covers made from the fabric of woolen, cotton and silk. Products like Kani jam costs upto 80,000. Pashmina has variable rates and also goes up on sale in thousands. Tusha and wool are the other products sold.
“Central market is a designated sight for the purchase of the original and pure kind of fabric. Every product has a price mark and same rate throughout the market.” He further said.
He requested the government and concerned authorities to conduct regular checks of dealers in order to ensure the transparency of business.
While talking to Abdul Rashid Shah, an official in Kashmir Government Arts Emporium, he said that it is not in our jurisdiction to examine the unscrupulous traders defaming Kashmir’s reputed crafts and artifacts. “Our department deals with marketing. Nevertheless, we show the customers through demonstration in marking difference between handmade and machine-made works and artifacts”, he said
Bringing the matter to notice of Riyaz Ahmed, Publication and Exhibition officer in Directorate of handicrafts, he said, “ retailing of machine-made works and artifacts is not any offence but we defame our art and results in cheating our customers. Identification of artifacts in this regard is necessary. To ensure the productive quality of our cultural heritage, our department has proposed some initiatives and endeavors for the preservation of handicrafts: establishment of ‘quality control wing’ for quality assurance of the products, development of labels for fixed tagging Handmade and machinemade crafts, introduction of training programmes etc. “ we are contemplating on to make a film at national level to aware people all over about handicraft business”, he further said.