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The munar brothers, wood carving, experts of wood carving

The Expert Wood- Carvers of Kashmir

The experts of wood carving in kashmir

 

“Beauty is truth; truth beauty”,

said John Keats and it stands apt for the luminous arts and craft culture of Kashmir. The first thought that crosses one’s mind while witnessing art in Kashmir is of awe as the unique and enchanting crafts synchronise with the beauty of our valley. While Kashmir is famous for various things, the most known are the astonishingly beautiful Pashmina shawls, most keenly knitted carpets, and various handicrafts like Papier Mache, etc.

One of the finest talents of crafting in Kashmir is Wood Carving. It is one of the oldest craft in the history of the world, but exceptionally unique to Kashmir. Why? With its ornamental and delicate aspects, it achieves its individuality due to the use of Walnut Tree wood for carving. Kashmir is one of the few places where walnuts grow, thus making Walnut Wood carving an extraordinary craft in Kashmir.

Wood carving is an extremely difficult craft and takes years of hard work to master. We are blessed with two such master artists, namely, Abdul Ahad Muran and Mohammad Yusuf Muran. The Muran brothers are the oldest Kashmiri wood-carving artists who have been carving beauty from the wood from more than 50 years.

Our talented artists were tragically born dumb and deaf but Allah made no mistake in blessing them with the creative hands and minds. Abdul chacha, who is 72 years old and Yusuf Chacha, who is 56, are Allah’s gifts to Kashmir. Both of them are tremendously good at conceiving and executing the art of wood carving.

The brothers do not let their disability, health or age hinder their work and have recently begun working on some major projects. Abdul chacha has taken up on craving a Mughal- Era wall hanging that does justice to the minute details of king and queen sitting in their palace garden. On the other hand Yusuf Chacha’s project will transcend you to 15th century’s Kashmir. It has all the subtle representation that represent the art of valley: A woman on the spinning wheel, a man weaving shawl, another man grinding spices and the last man with a hookah. These projects are huge and will get much praises from admirers, as the proud son, Mudasir Munar, of Abdul Chacha says, “You cannot spot a single mistake in their work”. Mudasir sells the carved woods made by his father and uncle in the markets in the valley, which is vastly known among the locals as well as visitors, as the fame of Munar brothers has reached beyond oceans. They are also internationally known for their art of wood carving.

 

wood carving in kashmir, the muran brothers

 

The Muran family has an ancient history in wood carving. Abdul and Yusuf chacha fall in the fourth generation of the family and are successfully keeping the tradition as well the almost dying art of wood carving alive. As their fame grew, the art also rode upon the roller coaster of recognition internationally. There is no a single artefact that they can’t perfect in. From carving animals, Hindu mythology gods and goddesses to the portraits of inspirational leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, the brothers have mastered their hands in all forms. They have successfully created the replica of a Hangul (Kashmiri Deer) to gift an US based NGO and carved the miniature replica of Srinagar’s Jamia mosque for the Iranian Ambassador.

 

wood carving in kashmir, the muran brothers

 

The only tragic part to this glorious art is the fear of its extinction. The young generation needs to pay heed to such rich traditional art form of Kashmir and carry forward its lineage. It saddens the Muran brothers to see their art form fade.  Unfortunately, due to old age, their health is challenge. Even though the artists die and their art lives forever, Kashmir will always fear the loss of its people.

Through Kashmiri Life, we aim to showcase the talent of our elderly artists and create awareness about the art of Walnut Wood Carving itself. Kashmir is blessed with the Walnut Tree wood and talented people, let’s combine them to keep tradition and the creativity alive.

Your Offbeat Shopping Cart From Kashmir

Your Offbeat Shopping Cart From Kashmir

Your Offbeat Shopping Cart From Kashmir

“Keep some souvenirs of your past, or how will you ever prove it wasn’t all a dream?”

From the majestic Chinar trees, the mighty Himalayas, the lush green hillsides, the mesmerising sounds of the Rabab, the finely woven Pashmina, the Dal Jheel reflecting ornamental walnut wood carved houseboats, the local Kashmiri chacha in pheran, the alluring red Kashmiri chillies, the Saffron Town, to bags full of apples and cherries the list goes on. Kashmir is indeed any traveller’s dream.

Hey there! Planning a trip to Kashmir to escape the heat and dust? See Kashmir as a traveler this time, not as a tourist! Traveling is so much more than just visiting the touristy highlights. While the must-see attractions are always fun, be sure to find the time for some of the little-known or less documented spots too.

Whenever you visit somewhere, you always need some pre-trip research. And if you are doing that right now, you are welcome! You’ve come to the right place. We will help you with an essential part of our trip – shopping.

While the staple shopping cart of every tourist would include – pashmina shawls, walnut wood carvings, papiér–maché knick knacks and the alluring red Kashmiri chillies, allow us to send you back with some not so staple items as a memory from Kashmir.

Take note:

Vintage things from Kashmir

 

“Fads come and go but V I N T A G E endures.”
Buy vintage maps of Kashmir, old photographs of Kashmir, antique copper ware like samovars and trays, antique silver.

Special tea leaves for Pink tea

 

“Give me tea, O Saqi, and let there be no delay;
Let me have it bitter, if milk and sugar are not at hand.
Had Jamshid taken a draught from this pot,
His slow-beating pulse would have run like deer.
Have you heard the boiling kettle of tea cry bagg bagg?
Verily you would say it was Mansur shouting ana al-haqq.
There is a reference in the Book of God
Bread to eat and tea to drink.”
Chanama, (A Tea Poem) by Mulla Hamidullah when Chai mania was probably at peak in Kashmir.
Addicted to tea? Why sip on only milk tea when you can bring back some special tea leaves to make the traditional ‘gulabi chai’? You’ll get them easily at most grocery stores.

Shatoosh Shawl

 

Wrapped in ‘Pashmina’
Of course you’re going to buy a Kashmiri Pashmina but don’t forget to buy a ‘Shahtoosh’ shawl. They are so fine and light they can be passed through a wedding ring and are warm enough to hatch a pigeon egg.

Local Kashmiri jewellery & attire

 

Let’s go Local!
Be spoiled for choice with local Kashmiri ornaments and attire – necklaces, bracelets, hairpins and of course pherans.

Spices from Kashmir

 

At northern India’s tip lies the snowy cold and spicy hot Kashmir region.
Think spices in Kashmir and you’ll automatically be reminded Kashmiri red chillies. Heat it up with some Kashmiri red chilies. Other than the, you must take back saffron from a saffron farm near Pampore Fields.

Doda Sapphire

 

Bank upon a piece of jewellery enveloped with the ‘Doda Sapphire’
If you’ve not already burnt a hole in your pocket by investing in a Pashmina, try a very rare and unique to Kashmir gem, the ‘Doda Sapphire’.

Kandur waan

 

‘Kandur Wan’, where breads are baked with love and sprinkled with dreams.
Take some bread, love and dreams back home made at our local bakery or ‘Kandur Wan’ as we call it. Lavaasa, Girdas and Kulchas needs special mentions.

Don’t come back home without owning any of the above mentioned items and while browsing the wares experience some haggling with locals. There’s no truer way to experience a place and once you come back from a trip to Kashmir. You’ll definitely say, Emperor Jehangir was right.

“Gar firdaus bar ru e zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.”