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Burzahom- History of Stone Age Kashmir

“Evidence doesn’t lie. History maybe accurate, but archaeology is precise”-Doug Scott

Kashmir has a rich history when it comes to artefacts and ancient antiquities. One such archaeological site which is situated around 16kms north-east of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir is Burzahom. It is the oldest proof of existence of humans in the valley of Kashmir and was even nominated for the tag of UNESCO World Heritage Site

Burzahom- History of Stone Age Kashmir

Burzahom is the combination of two Kashmiri words- Burz and HAMA which means Burza trees and home respectively. It is believed that this place got this name because it was on high altitude and had numerous trees of Burza at that time. It is the first archaeological site in the country that revealed the existence of Neolithic Settlement in Kashmir.

In 1936, during the British rule, for the very first time, a survey was carried out and it lasted for about 10 years. After investigation, proofs found here belong to 4 different periods. Periods I and II represent the Neolithic era; Period IlI the Megalithic era; and Period IV represent the Post-megalithic period. Through these proofs, information about the lifestyle of the people, tools they used for hunting and farming 5000 years ago was gathered.

Burzahom- History of Stone Age Kashmir

Let’s look at the discovery of each period.

Period I

One of the most important discoveries in this period was that of ‘pits’ which were circular and oval in shape due to compact Karewa soil formation. Some deep pits had steps and ladder access, some had ash and charcoal layers, some were shallower and some were used as dwellings. Stone hearths were also found showing habitation activities at the ground level. All these things depicted human occupancy.

Period II

It was revealed that people moved out from pits and started to build structures at the ground level. They filled the pits with mud plaster and painted the mouth in red ochre. Floors were made of rammed Karewa soil. One of the most interesting features was a red-ware pot with a horned figure painted on it. Hunting tools such as rectangular harvesters with a curved cutting edge, long sized needles, a long hollow bones, etc were found here.

Period III

It suggests a gradual transition between the two phases. Huge Menhirs rough in shape were brought down from the hills. It was installed to mark notable events of the community. Few copper arrowheads were found that suggested people had knowledge of metallurgy.

Period IV

It was the last phase of human occupation at Burzahom. Mud bricks were used to made houses. Pottery was superior and even iron antiquaries were also found.

Other than these, the most interesting thing that was found here was a female skull with multiple holes in it. Even first ever surgical practice was also emerged during the Neolithic Age. It is popularly known as trepanning or trepanation. Some believed drilling holes in the skull of a living person was related ritual offerings or magical practices or for some medical reasons.

Burzahom- History of Stone Age Kashmir banner

The history of Kashmir started from this place 5000 years ago. Burzahom is the archaeological site of utmost importance. It’s a storyteller of life of people of Kashmir and should be preserved for the coming generation.

The Popular Poets of Kashmir banner

The Popular Poets of Kashmir

Poetry is the quality of expression of emotions and ideas. Thankfully, it has always been an important part of the culture of Kashmir and forms an eminent part of the Literature of Kashmir.
These poets have portrayed the culture, tradition and essence of life in Kashmir beautifully in their poetry.

Let us take you on a tour and introduce you to some of the most loved Kashmiri Poets of the valley.

Lal Ded of Kashmir
Beginning the list from one of the earliest poets of Kashmir, Lalleshwari, popularly known as Lal Ded and most revered by the people of Kashmir. She was a mystic poet of the 14th century Kashmir and wrote poems in the form of “Vakhs”. While the world knows Lal Ded for her magnificent literary figures and spiritual poetry; she has been venerated both by Muslims and Hindus for centuries in Kashmir due to her poetry that reminded people of the strength of unity. For many centuries, she successfully dodged the possessive claims of religious monopoly in the valley.
Here is an extract from her poetry-
“atshyan aay ta gatushun gatshe
pakun gatshe then kyho raath
yor aya turiy gatshun gatshe
khenata khenata kheneta kyha”
Translation:
The vision of eyes keeps on coming and going and the night keeps on passing. We will return where from we came in daylight. Something is there which is not visible.

Nund Reshi of Kashmir
Another popular poet praised and loved by the valley is Nund Reshi, also known as Sheikh ul-Alam, Sheikh Noor ud-Din Wali, Sheikh Noor ud-Din Noorani. He was a Sufi mystic poet who lived during 1378 to 1438 AD and used his poetry as a medium to spread the “knowledge of absolute”, an expression of reality, in the form of “Shrukhs”. For his benevolent poetry and remarkable lessons, The University of Kashmir has honored his memory by creating and staging the Sheikh-ul-Alam Chair.
Here is an extract from his poetry-
“An poshi teli,
Yeli van poshi”
Translation:
“Food will thrive only
Till the woods survive”

Habba Khatoon of Kashmir
The next poet from Kashmir worth mentioning is Habba Khatoon, popularly known as the Nightingale of Kashmir. Her poetry is the representation of her jilted love in the memory of her dead husband, Yusuf Shah Chak, (the ruler (one of them) of Kashmir in the 16th century) written in the form called “Lol”. Most of her poetry has evolved from the beauty of Kashmir in the form of description of hills, streams, flowers and fruits that stand tall truly with the paradisiacal quality of Kashmir.
Here is an extract from her poetry-
“Ratshi ratshi retakol chhum soraanai,
bara maa gatshan acchi posh
Kuni hita bulbulo yita aki aanai,
chhaav myaany daanai posh”
Translation:
Slow and steadily the summer is going away. Maybe flowers will loosen its bloom. You (Bulbul) come for a reason and enjoy this bloom.

Mahjoor of Kashmir
Apart from the above mentioned classic poets of their times, one of Kashmir’s most loved and popularly known poet is Peerzada Ghulam Ahmad (Mahjoor). A poet of the 20th century, he reflects the ground realities of the valley and uses nature as a metaphor to expand of those realities. He uses patriotism as the guiding theme of his poetry that inspire many Kashmiris towards nationalism.
Recognizing his poetic genius, a film named Shayar-e-Kashmir Mahjoor was released in 1972. There is also a square in Srinagar named after him. As one of his greatest achievements, he is buried near the great poet Habba Khatoon, at a site on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, where two legends lie together.
Here is an extract from her poetry-
“Walov ha bagvanov, navbaharuk shaan paida kar
Phalan gul gath karan bulbul,
Tuthey samaan paida kar
Dazaan tche gar ye basti wale gulan hund trav zear-o-bam
Benul kar vaav kar gagraye
Bey toofan paida kar”
Translation:
O Gardner decorate this new season that has come, the flowers will bloom and birds will chirp, make such a place for us. Leave all differences and come to develop an abode of flowers, create earthquakes, wind, lightning and thunder.

These are some of the most recognized and loved poets of the valley. If we had to talk about all of them, it would have almost been impossible to compress all that beauty into one article.

At Kashmiri Life, our team will continue to add to the list of these great literary figures of Kashmir and bring it to you. Stay tuned!

The Revival of Calligraphy in Kashmir

The Revival of Calligraphy in Kashmir

“Art is not what you see, But what you make others see.”- Edgar Deg

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is extremely rich in its art and culture. The beauty of Kashmir has been a source of inspiration for many artists. Various art galleries and museums have attracted a lot of tourism here. During the reign of Sultan Zain ul Abidin, art was highly appreciated. It is believed scholar Sharaf-ud-Din-Bulbul Shah introduced calligraphy to Kashmir in the fourteenth century AD. After him many calligraphers started to enjoy a degree of royal patronage. And this is how calligraphy became the talk of the town.

The Revival of Calligraphy in Kashmir

The word calligraphy is originated from the greek words ‘kallos’ and ‘graphein’ which means ‘beauty’ and ‘to write’ respectively. During the time of Mughals, a number of Kashmiri calligraphists managed to secure a permanent position in the court of royal artisans; Mohammad Hussain Kashmiri being one of them. He was amazing at Nastaliq style of writing. Such was the beauty of his art that he was highly regarded by Mughal Emperor Akbar and Jahangir as well. He was in fact given a place among the famous navratnas of Akbar.

Over the period of time, as the mughal reign started to decline, calligraphy started to fade away. In modern times some people managed to make it survive. Some young calligraphers even managed to make it wide awake. Nadiya Mushtaq Mir, a 29-year-old from Kralpora Village is a self taught calligrapher, got international recognition for her work.

“I was inclined to art, designs, sketches and drawings since my childhood. I used to draw with crayons which gave wings to my imaginations and dreams. It was then that I decided to be associated with this art,” she said.
With this profession she is able to earn a good amount of money. She believes Islamic calligraphy is an art and it is something where people don’t mind spending. In 2017, her work was exhibited in “Khush Khat”, a calligraphy workshop in Srinagar.

Just like her Ishfaq always wanted to follow his passion for calligraphy. He was always surrounded by art, a perk of living in an area that is famous for papier mache craft. Between his busy job in Police department, he somehow manage to steal the time to create some mesmerising pieces of calligraphy. Many buyers got attracted to his work.

The Revival of Calligraphy in Kashmir

Introduction of technology and computers had waned the interest in this beautiful art but thanks to the youngsters, calligraphy is back with a bang. It is really overwhelming to see people making an effort to hold on to the art that was on the verge of extinction. It got a huge boost after an Islamic calligraphy exhibition (ICC) that was organised in Srinagar. The works of famous Calligraphers such as Fida Hussain Rather, Iftikhar Jaffar and Taha Mughal were also displayed. Many government bodies, NGOs, Individual experts came together to promote and exhibit the art.
The Revival of Calligraphy in Kashmir

The government of Jammu and Kashmir after every interval of time organize different workshops and exhibitions to promote the art of Calligraphy. Calligraphy has a special place in Kashmir and should be cherished forever!

The Vintage Gems of Kashmir

I wonder what made Amir Khusrau Sahab to say this about Kashmir?
Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast”,
meaning, “If there is a paradise on earth, It is this, it is this, it is this.”

Is it its people or nature? Well, we Kashmiris are most privileged to be part of this abundant land and immensely grateful for people who have nurtured this heaven on Earth.
The Kashmir we see today is the artwork of its ancestral kings, queens and natives, who have knitted the rich cultures and traditions of the valley and left it for us to cherish.
Let’s take you back, to some of the hidden vintage gems from Kashmir valley-

1. Poplar Avenue, a row of 1700 trees, photographed by Francis Frith

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

2. Waterwheel and Kashmiri Pandits 1870, photographed by Francis Frith

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

3. Amiran Kadal. First bridge built by Afghan governor Amir Khan Sher Jawan in 1774-1777, photographed by Francis Frith

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

4. The Sun temple of Martand built by King Lalitaditya (A.D. 693 to 729), photographed by Francis Frith

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

5. Srinagar with Safoola Baba’s House, photographed by Francis Frith in 1875, photographed by Francis Frith

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

6. Kashmiri girl at Dancing Shalimar, photograph by Herford Tynes Cowling for National Geographic Magazine in October 1929

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

7. Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev’s boat procession 1955. – Indian Photo Division

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

8. Pandits and Muslims sitting together at the Potter’s shop, 1885, via. British Library. The Potter is making “touk”, a saucer needed for religious rites of Pandits.

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

9. The state emblem of Jammu and Kashmir designed by artist Mohan Raina (1928-1983 ) 1952.

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

10. A page from 17th century musical treatise by Shaykh ʻAbd al-Karīm ibn Shaykh Farīd Anṣārī al-Qādirī al-Jawnpūrī dedicated to Muhammad ‘Adil Shah (r.1626-56), via: British Library

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

11. Traditional accessories of Kashmir 1921
-Tolsi/Tulsi: the choker necklace
-Chaphkael: the long necklace

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

12. The opening of a collection of verse by the celebrated Kashmiri poet, Mahmud Gami (19th century), via British Library

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

13. A map of the Mughal province of Cachemir (Kashmir), 1770, via: British Library

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

14. Copper coin of Didda, the ruler of Kashmir from 958 CE to 1003 CE, around 950-8 A.D.

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

Old is Gold. At Kashmiri Life we plan to protect the old like diamonds.