Kashmir Galore – An ‘Accident’ That Saved The Heritage Business From Dying Out

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Do you believe that our lives have been scripted in advance? Do you believe in déjà vu and the possibility of repetition of certain events? Do you believe that our destiny is being worked out for the best?

As I engaged in a conversation with Saqib Posh, the man behind Kashmir Galore, all the above questions seemed to have found meaning and reasons. Saqib’s story starts with his grandfather and his unfortunate paralysis accident, and ends on his own unfavourable accident at the gym, which served as his wake up call. 

The story, in the words of Saqib, goes on like this…

My grandfather, Late Haji Adbul Rehman Posh, was a goldsmith situated in Srinagar. One fine evening while he was fixing a light bulb, his right hand got electrocuted and it got partially paralysed. Due to this accident he could no longer use his right hand to lift the hammer. As he was left with limited choices and a family of 9 to feed, he decided to enter into the manufacturing of traditional kashmiri silk carpets after having sold some of his wife’s gold jewellery as an initial investment. At first, he hired a couple of carpet weavers and began making small-sized carpets. With time the business grew and he was now in a position to set up his own looms.

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The business grew at a substantial pace. It was passed on to the next generation of my father and uncles who expanded the business.

As for me, I had completed my masters in Fashion Merchandising and was working as a Fashion Stylist with a leading e-commerce brand in New Delhi. One fine day I seriously injured my back in the gym and that made me take a sabbatical from work, as I was unable to stand for long hours during photoshoots. 

After having recovered, I made a conscious decision to join the family business as it was going through a very rough time. After I realised that carpet making was not a popular choice among my cousins, I understood that I am choosing the right path of reviving the carpet industry. 

It was a transitional phase in the carpet industry where people had started buying machine made carpets instead of handmade carpets. Large scale machine made carpet industries were set up in China, Iran and Turkey. This made things really difficult for the handmade industry especially for the Kashmiri carpet industry due to the lack of resources and funds. 

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When demonetisation occurred in 2016, the Kashmiri carpet trade took a serious blow as exports were at their lowest. With time the domestic market which was the only hope, was also bailing on us.

Subsequently, implementation of a 12% GST on kashmiri silk carpets acted as a final nail in the coffin, which was later reduced to 5% after persistent requests made by the Kashmiri carpet manufacturers, but the damage was already done.

As of today with volatile conditions in Kashmir and almost negligible tourism, 50-70% of looms have shut down. A lot of people fear that these are the last few years left for the Kashmiri carpet industry. 

But I believe and shall continue to do that together we can preserve this beautiful art form from going extinct.

A further conversation with Saqib revealed that apart from carpets, Kashmir Galore is also immersed in the production of other Kashmir’s heritage products such as pashminas, walnut furniture and papier-mâché.

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Saqib also listed the categories of carpets that they make. They are found in two forms: silk on cotton and silk on silk. Silk on cotton carpets are made from pure silk with 80 percent of the carpet being silk and rest 20 percent that is the base of the carpet is cotton. The carpets are knotted on a loom. Silk on cotton carpets have a knotting of 18×18, if calculated, it would mean that there are around 324 knots per square inch in a silk on cotton carpet.

The other type which is silk on silk carpets are truly made in silk, with even the base of the carpet being silk. Silk on silk carpets have a knotting of 24×24. They have 576 knots per square inch.

At Kashmir Galore, Saqib is in a continuous process of preserving age-old art-crafts, like his, which is on the verge of extinction. He is working together with hundreds of artisans for whom carpet weaving is the only source of income. In a process of revival, he is mixing traditional carpet making techniques together with new designs and colors. Using natural dyes and natural fabrics, his main focus is to support locally made products with no use of synthetic fabrics. He also ensures that his products are completely natural and eco friendly.

Saqib also has a piece of advice for the artists trying to find solace in this particular artform. He reinstated, “I would like everyone pursuing this art to be patient and never, ever give up. One has to keep striving, only then good things are bound to happen. Perseverance and patience are the key virtues to success.”

You can find Kashmir Galore at H-14, Lajpat Nagar-III, New Delhi-110024. You can also visit their site – www.kashmirgalore.com

Or reach them on their Facebook and Instagram page @kashmirgalore.

Or call them at +91-9999934247

Don’t forget to check out their Etsy page kashmirgalore if you want to buy their products.

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