Kashmir’s age-old handicraft industry is experiencing a remarkable resurgence, as the near-extinct Namda, a traditional woollen rug, regains its former glory both within the homes of locals and on the global stage. Once the most exported handicraft product of the region, Namda had faced a bleak future due to challenges concerning raw material quality and a shortage of skilled artisans willing to carry on the ancient craft.
In its heyday, Namda held a prestigious position in the international market, surpassing even the highly sought-after Pashmina and carpets in revenue generation. However, over time, the demand for Namda declined, and production suffered due to a myriad of reasons. Among them, the quality of raw materials used in creating these exquisite rugs faced a significant decline, leading to a decline in overall product quality. Additionally, the younger generation seemed disinterested in pursuing the art of Namda-making, resulting in a dearth of skilled artisans proficient in this traditional craft.
Recognizing the cultural and economic significance of Namda, the Department of Handicraft took decisive action to revive this ancient art form. Understanding the need to preserve and promote the unique heritage of Kashmir, the department established 11 training centers strategically placed throughout the region. These centers not only provide valuable training in Namda-making but also serve as hubs of cultural exchange, passing down the intricate techniques from seasoned artisans to the aspiring youth.
The revival of Namda was not an easy feat. It demanded meticulous efforts from various stakeholders, including the government, local communities, and skilled artisans. By collaborating with experts and tapping into the knowledge of the elderly artisans, the training centers have succeeded in ensuring the authenticity and uniqueness of each Namda rug crafted.
One of the primary objectives of this revival initiative is to address the raw material issues that once plagued the industry. Efforts have been made to source high-quality wool and other materials from reliable suppliers, ensuring that each Namda rug maintains the hallmark features that make it a sought-after piece of art. With an emphasis on sustainability and ethical sourcing, the Namda industry aims to position itself as a responsible player in the global market.
The impact of this revival initiative extends beyond economic gains. As the art of Namda-making is passed down to the younger generation, it serves as a powerful means of preserving Kashmir’s cultural identity and fostering a sense of pride among the local communities. The training centers have become spaces where tradition and innovation converge, allowing artisans to infuse contemporary designs while staying true to the essence of Namda.
With renewed interest and innovation, Namda has made an impressive comeback in the living rooms of Kashmiri households. Locals have embraced the traditional rugs as an integral part of their home decor, reaffirming its cultural significance in daily life. Additionally, the international market has also taken notice of Namda’s resurgence, with a growing demand for these unique rugs in foreign countries.
As the revival of Namda continues, it is essential to ensure sustained support for the artisans and the industry as a whole. This includes providing access to marketing opportunities, technical support, and financial incentives. By doing so, Namda can continue to shine on the global stage, becoming a symbol of Kashmir’s rich heritage and a source of pride for its people.
The revival of Namda stands as a testament to the power of preserving traditional art forms and the indomitable spirit of the Kashmiri people. Through the establishment of training centers and a collective effort to address challenges, this once-forgotten craft has reclaimed its position as a cherished handicraft of Kashmir. As Namda rugs once again grace homes and exhibitions worldwide, the legacy of this remarkable art form will live on for generations to come.