Shopping in Kashmir
¤ Souvenirs From Paradise
associates Kashmir's handicrafts with carpets, but there's a whole lot
besides. Depending on the quality of your purchase, you can either pay
as little as Rs.10, or a few lakhs. Very many qualities exist side by
side in Kashmir to suit a variety of budgets.
There are pure wool shawls called raffal which have different
counts of wool - 40, 60, 80 etc., and the shawl is progressively more
expensive as the count increases.
Shawls mixed with other fibres like cotton and cotton derivatives are
far cheaper. On the other hand, woollen shawls mixed with pashmina
will be far more expensive.
Then too, there are shawls that look and feel like pashmina and which
are priced between wool and pashmina. Naturally a pure pashmina shawl
will run into thousands of rupees. Depending on the count, two similar
looking pashmina shawls will differ in price if they have a different
and then there are the embroidered shawls. Embroidery is of two kinds
- hook and needle, and the former is generally less expensive than the
As a general rule, the better the material of the shawl, the better
the embroidery, with pashmina having the tiniest stitches in
needlework, and the less expensive mixed woollen shawls having either
hook work or somewhat coarser needlework stitches. Some shawls
have gold zari embroidery worked on them in hook work and are highly
¤ Papier mache
Here too, the quality of papier mache differs markedly, depending on
two factors. The first is the papier mache in its raw state. Unless it
is smoothened adequately to be silky to the touch, it is not
considered high grade. On the other hand, inexpensive papier mache,
brightly painted and varnished, makes a variety of gifts and souvenirs
that do not cost a fortune.
Eggs, egg cups, candle and pen stands, kum kum boxes and cigarette
boxes are just a few options at the low end.
At the other end of the scale, high grade papier mache is used to
make vases, bowls, trays and a number of other products all painted by
expert craftsmen in lifelike images of kingfishers, chinar leaves and
Gold used on these products will be real gold leaf. On lower range
products it will be poster paint. The real difference however, lies in
the skill of painting and not in the product itself - two trays or
vases can appear roughly the same at first glance - it is the
execution of the painting and the type of gold used that will
determine the price. One may be a collector's item, the other an
¤ Walnut Wood Items
Walnut Wood Items made from walnut wood come from three parts of the tree: the
branches, the trunk and the root. The branches have the palest colour
of wood, and the trunk the darkest. Branches have no veins, trunks
have the strongest marked veins.
Objects made out of the root will be the costliest because of the
wood used. As walnut is a soft wood, it takes carving very well.
Chinar leaves, vine leaves and flowers can be either carved along
borders or can fill entire surfaces. The artistry of the carving and
its abundance dictates the cost. Trinket boxes and the larger
jewellery boxes should have invisible seams. Other walnut wood objects
are salad bowls, nut bowls, photo frames, trays and furniture.
This can range from a simple telephone stand or nesting tables to a
dining table with six chairs. In the case of furniture, the price is
dictated by the thickness of wood used.
Two very similar writing desks can be priced very differently, if one
used 3/4" wood and the other 1/2" wood. The difference is
barely discernible to the untrained eye, but no dealer will sell
precious root wood, 3/4" thick for the same price as his
competitor who has economized on the quality and quantity of wood for
a cheaper product.
Kashmir has extensive mulberry cultivation. Silkworms feeding on this
produce resilient silk. Kashmiri silk may be thin, but it is strong
nevertheless, as is chiffon. Very little silk is actually woven in
Kashmir - Kashmiri silk is the term used for silk produced in Kashmir.
It is mainly used to make saris.
Basket weaving & Cricket bats
Surprisingly strong, wicker baskets can be used as picnic
hampers, lampshades, glass holders for holding tea, work baskets, even
packing cases which can be sent unaccompanied by road. The main centre
of this craft is at Hazaratbal in Srinagar. Kashmir's willow is so
highly prized, that most of the national team uses cricket bats from
¤ Other Products of Kashmir Includes
saffron, grown in Pampore on the way to Pahalgam. It is one of the
only two places in India where saffron is grown, the other being
Kishtwar, also in Jammu and Kashmir. This expensive spice, requires
only a few strands to flavour a dish serving ten people and hence you
need to buy very little of it, 5 or 10 grams being enough for several
Preserved in airtight containers in a cool dark place, saffron can
keep indefinitely and hence is an excellent buy.
Walnuts and almonds are available in the market throughout the year.
Being substantially cheaper in Kashmir than elsewhere, they too make
good gifts. Other food products from Kashmir are shah zira (also
called kala zira), Kashmiri chillies and honey.
Courtesy J&K Tourism