The Prime Minister tweeted: “Delighted that Kashmir’s centuries-old Namda Craft is reviving and now reaching global shores after years! This is a testament to our artisans’ skills and resilience. This revival is great news for our rich heritage.”
The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has shared below article (Published in Tribune India) on revival of Kashmir’s centuries-old ‘Namda’ craft-
Kashmir’s centuries-old “namda” (wollen felt rug) craft is back from the brink of extinction. Powering the revival of the once dying art are more than 2,200 artisans from the Valley, mainly girls, who this week dispatched the first batch of an export consignment worth $1.5 lakh received from the UK, Japan, Holland and Germany.
This is the first export for J&K-made namdas in over 25 years. The turnaround happened after the artisans underwent training as part of the Centre’s special pilot project to save the art that dates back to the 11th century.
The project, launched by Minister of State for Skill Development Rajeev Chandrasekhar in November 2021, has so far certified 2,212 namda craft makers across six clusters — Srinagar, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Bandipora, Budgam and Anantnag.
“In the 1970s, Kashmiri namdas used to account for annual exports worth Rs 300 to 400 crore. But gradually due to scarcity of raw materials, skilled manpower and marketing techniques, exports declined by almost 100 per cent starting 1998. The latest export order worth USD 1.5 lakh is the first in 25 years. Artisans trained under the central project are executing it,” Arshad Mir, Chairman, J&K Handicrafts and Carpet Sector Skill Council under the Centre, explains, adding that Nepal gained at the cost of J&K namda art and has been exporting namda-type rugs worth nearly 650 million USD annually.
But with local namda-making talent now spawning, the Council is sure of a massive turnaround of the industry. Recently, the Council signed an MoU with Flipkart to help Kashmir’s weavers sell their namdas which are now being created in ten product categories, including Christmas embellishments, apparel and table tops.
Those trained are also further training more unemployed women across Kashmir to power the mission to revive Kashmir’s most striking tradition – a handmade rug crafted by felting the wool rather than weaving it.
When contacted, three artisans, part of the namda export consignment, said it was the art that had saved them rather than the other way round. Shabroza, 21, from Srinagar, says namdas have become her tickets to the world outside Kashmir.
“It was only last year that I travelled out of Kashmir for the first time when we exhibited our namdas in New Delhi and later Goa. I was so scared to travel out but all my misgivings disappeared,” Shabzora says.
Razia Sultana, 27, also from Srinagar, has already started a small factory from her home. After completing the course, she trained 30 girls in namda art.
Another weaver Shahida now employs 15 people at her cottage industry in Srinagar as namdas boost local job potential.
MoS Rajeev Chandrashekhar today said the special project not only aims to save and sustain the craft but also generate returns from export markets.
“The first breakthrough has been achieved with the dispatch of export consignment to the UK, more will follow,” he said.