Rizwan Shafi Wani/Srinagar
Two Kashmiri young men have introduced Kashmiri carpets with Arabic calligraphy designs to the world and their initiative has helped infuse fresh life into the industry that was losing sheen, first due to the hackneyed designs and secondly because of the Covid-19 pandemic-related lockdown and the prolonged global clampdown on travel and trade.
Shahnawaz Ahmed and Emad Pervez have partnered to introduce innovative carpets with calligraphy and other modern designs as a Luxury brand of Kashmir. While Shahnawaz is a designer, Emad is a brand manager, and, responsible for introducing Kashmiri carpets as a Luxury brand in the domestic and global markets.
Both believe that carpet weaving in Kashmir is on the verge of extinction and such an initiative would not only revive the industry but also restore its prestige in the international market.
Shahnawaz, who hails from the Srinagar downtown, began experimenting with fresh ideas and designs as soon as he graduated from the University of Kashmir with a degree in Fine Arts. His family is into carpet business and designing,
Freshly woven carpets with Shahnawaz's designs
"I thought of doing something different; off from the traditional designs. I started making calligraphy, and different designs on carpets, and people liked it. Consumers in the Gulf are quite fond of it. I changed the trend, and it has helped me a lot.”
"Craftsmen who are into weaving the carpets need training and I conduct workshops for them. It didn't take long for the weavers to learn new techniques. I also taught them how to use gold and silver threads into carpet weaving.”
Shahnawaz says Kashmir's handicrafts and especially carpets are in demand all over the world. However, the younger generation is least interested in this back-breaking craft, and therefore it may be close to its death.
"Today, the industry is fighting for its survival. However, carpets with fresh designs seem to revive buyers’ interests. These carpets are being loved locally, nationally, and globally. Demand for this specialty has grown significantly. I'm getting a lot of orders. If we do something different, I'm sure the industry will grow,” Shahnawaz says.
The carpets with calligraphy designed by Shanawaz
He claims young women and men get interested in the fresh carpet designs leading to its revival.
Emad Pervez, also from the old city of Srinagar, says his fascination for the carpet drives him to help in its evolution. He is trying to introduce a new style of carpet in the international market through his innovative marketing skills.
Emad holds a degree in Luxury Brand Management in Italy. Looking at the trend of the international market, Emad says that only by introducing new designs the demand for Kashmiri carpets can increase.
Emad and Shahnawaz are trying to create a luxury brand with Kashmir Craft.
"People into the business of carpets fear that Kashmir that this industry may collapse. We want to keep this art alive and so have taken this initiative. This product should be introduced to people who know nothing about this art. Introducing calligraphy and fresh designs will also attract the younger generation to the industry,” feels Emad.
Emad Pervez says that calligraphy has enhanced the beauty of carpets. Our new initiative is being hailed as positive and encouraging both in the domestic and international markets.
"Shahnawaz is not only a great craftsman, he also has a vision of creating a carpet that can be easily called a luxury product. I collaborated with him and we are building a brand.
"We want to introduce all Kashmiri handicrafts to the market in a new way," he said. Fresh designs not only help those who are in the business of carpets but also bring in new job opportunities for young men and women, he says.
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