Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Yet Another Kashmiri Craft on the Verge of Extinction

Iqbal makes a passionate case to preserve the art of pottery

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 48, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numismatics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. He is employed by the Jammu and Kashmir State Government. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

The Art of Pottery

The artistic tradition of Kashmir is dying fast and the revival looks a distant dream. Pottery is one such art, which was once very popular in Kashmir. The people, who are associated with this art, are called Kral (Potter). Hundreds of people were, once, associated with this trade and products made by them were used for domestic purpose. The potter used to make numerous utensils in their workshop called Kral chrit. It is a wheel driven by hands. In the middle of it is placed a lump of clay from which pots are made. When desired pot is ready, it is then detached from the wheel by a special thread called kralpan. From large vessels to miniature cups, they are first baked in the potterÕs miniature kiln and then decorated. After then they are carried to the adjacent village markets where they are sold.

Pottery has a long history in this land; articles of pottery had been used from earlier times. The archaeological sites of Burzhama in Srinagar and Gufkral in Pulwama which dated back 5000 years also revealed the evidences of ancient Kashmiri pottery. The medieval sites of Avantipura, Devsar and Martand exposed the fragments of earthen vessels such as jars, gharas, handis, jugs and bowls. Incense burners, bottles and earthen lamps, cups and bowls of clay were also made for special occasions.

It would have been very interesting to take food in pottery bowls. These earthen potteries were in great demand in local markets. However the tradition of using these items is fading away. It has forced the people, who are involved in this business, to look for alternatives as the demand for these items is declining. They have closed their workshops. Their condition isnÕt good; they are living a miserable life. The golden hands which once chiseled marvels of soil have been neglected. These craftsmen have been deceived by their own ancestral art because it did not stand the assault of machine made utensils.

Steps are required to identify the community and people who are still associated with this art. There is a need to explore new markets for this dying art and thereby helping to get a face-lift.

We can start a drive and try to revive this art. We can encourage consumers to opt for the clay objects instead of copper, aluminum and steel.

If we are able to revive this art, it will surely help in our economic upliftment of our society in general. It will give a push to our domestic economy as well and help us to revitalize our culture and tradition. The government has a role to play,

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