A yearning to learn Kashmir’s indigenous Crewel embroidery has led Raziya Sultan, a young girl from a remote village in the Kupwara district of North Kashmir, to claim the first-ever State award of the Handicrafts Department of the Jammu and Kashmir Government.
Raziya Sultan’s innate aptitude for working out floral patterns on cloth and other local handicrafts was the reason she opted not to hanker after a government job. So when she was selected for training in crewel embroidery at the Crewel Centre in her native township of Trehgam in 2013, she was more than happy.
She has climbed up the ladders braving all odds and now stands out with her venture launched with local women.
Raziya Sultan’s talent and innovation were recognized by the Department of Handicrafts and she became a State Award winner in the Crewel making in 2021. The award was announced recently.
“Since the inception of the Handicrafts Department, no artisan was able to qualify for a State Award in any craft. The dream came true when the orphan girl, Raziya Sultan, daughter of Late Mohd Sultan Sheikh, won the State Award 2018 in Crewel Craft and stood 3rd position throughout the UT of J&K. The Awardee has been given a Certificate of Excellence with a cash prize of Rs. 20,000 thousand in the year 2021,” said Assistant Director Handicrafts, Kupwara, Mohammad Sadeeq Lone, adding that the girl has bought laurels for herself as well as district Kupwara.
Lone said that to further develop the craft sector in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the Government has announced the Karkhandar Scheme. “The scheme has been taken up on a pilot basis by the Department of Handicrafts and Handloom, Kashmir. It is a landmark decision that will give a fresh lease of life to the craft industry of UT and especially to the languishing crafts”, he added.
Raziya Sultan was given one project under the Karkhandar Scheme with financial assistance to carry forward her dream business of Handicrafts.
Raziya said she started working under the Karkhandar Scheme in October 2021, with 10 girls working in the Crewel Centre. All the girls are getting a monthly stipend of Rs.2000 each while Razia gets Rs.20000 per month.
Raziya Sultan said that she has been getting all logistic support from the Government through Handicrafts Department Kupwara and with that help she made 85-meter crewel cloth during the last 5 months and 35 meters more are under crewelwork.
Besides, she designed Crewelwork of 36 cushions. She said in the last five months, she has earned Rs. 60,000 from Crewelwork.
Razia said besides other girls, she has trained her younger sister, Aasiya Sultan, in crewel making craft. Both the sisters are now able to run the family comfortably. Though she did well in her school too, Raziya never hoped for Government service, instead, she developed an interest in Handicrafts. Her disposition towards Handicrafts began almost nine years back. She said that she registered among other girls at the Crewel center, established by the Handicrafts Department at Trehgam in 2013. “I was given a monthly stipend of Rs 500,” she said.
The training course had a duration of one year, and due to the good response from the trainees, the course was extended for two more years as Advanced Training Course in Crewel with an increase of Rs.200, that is Rs 700 per month to each trainee, said Razia. The course concluded in the year 2016.
Later she, unlike other trained girls, approached Rahat Memorial Society, an NGO in the same town where she was offered a job.
“I was engaged as Instructor, Crewel Master, and my salary was fixed at Rs.2000 per month”, said Raziya, adding that for her the amount of Rs.2000 in 2017 meant a lot. She was happy not because she was able to earn some money but more because she became a respectable teacher of the craft that she loved.