Kashmir’s wicker willow craft gaining global recognition

Foreign delegates praise ‘exceptional’ designs during recent G20 meeting in Srinagar

The age-old artistry of crafting wicker willow, locally known as “Kaani Keam” in the Kashmir Valley, is undergoing a transformation. This traditional craft, deeply rooted in the Kashmiri handicraft industry, is now gaining a fresh lease of life and was hailed by international delegates during the recently held G-20 meeting in Srinagar.Wicker willow, derived from one-year-old willow sticks, thrives in the cool lands of Shallabug village in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. The process involves carefully nurturing the willow, allowing it to grow for a year, and then subjecting it to a meticulous three-day boiling process to enhance its water resistance and durability.In the heart of this renaissance is Bashir Ahmad Dar, a 56-year-old craftsman from Peer Pora village. He spearheads the “Shaaksaz Willow Wicker Craft Producer Company Limited”, a venture that has breathed a new life into this traditional art form.Dar, while talking to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), said he established his willow wicker shop in Peerpora Ganderbal in 2020, and it quickly became a hub for this resurging craft. Willow wicker is primarily used to craft baskets, Kangri (traditional firepot), and exquisite ornaments, often given as cherished gifts during weddings, anniversaries, and various celebrations, thus preserving the essence of Kashmiri culture.Bashir’s unwavering dedication has yielded remarkable results, with wicker willow items now serving as a dependable source of income for local artisans. “I can proudly share that my team participated in the third G20 Tourism Working Group meeting earlier this year, where our exceptional willow craft designs garnered praise from international delegates,” he said.“We are yet to receive international orders, but our handmade products have garnered substantial demand from major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. We are receiving online orders which are on the rise,” Dar said, adding that this not only fuels the local economy but also enriches trade and cultural exchange

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