Srinagar, India, July 11, 2019/Digpu/–
Working in his cramped shop on one of his most expensive shawls, an old-timer craftsman – Abdul Majeed Shah – seems quite cut off from the world outside. The focus on work hides his underlying excitement quite easily. He is just months away from finishing work on the shawl that is pre-sold to a trader for a hefty amount of Rs. 1,15,000.
Adopted by a couple at a tender age of 18 months, Abdul Majeed lived in Srinagar till he grew old. After setting up a small shop in Pulwama, the veteran craftsman moved to Tenghar village of the south Kashmir district.
“I have been working for more than 40 years and continued with the craft out of my love and passion for this. Otherwise, the consistently declining earnings presented many challenges which nearly choked me financially,” he says.
About his latest assignment, Majeed says, “The shawl is pre-sold to a trader in Srinagar. It has taken me more than a year already and will take a few more months. Due to frail health, I can no more work for hours together.”
While showing a few interesting shawls with intricate needlework, he adds, “Young people will not indulge in this profession because of the meagre earnings of Rs. 250-300 per day. They have aspirations which can never be realized with shawl making.”
“These products were exported to foreign countries and exporting traders would make frequent visits to my residence to persuade me for taking their orders,” he recalls the glorious past of his profession.
“Manufacturers in other countries have tried to produce cashmere shawls and failed. It is not easy to spin Pashmina the way our women do,” he opines.
He rues the fact that manufacturers in Amritsar and Ludhiana (in Punjab) now import wool from foreign countries, spin it on machines and treat them with chemicals before passing off second-rate products as Pashmina.
Typically, the products range from a few thousand to lakhs of rupees depending upon the material and intricacy of the needlework. Shawl making has shaped the life of Majeed and has enhanced his reputation as an artisan. He has also been awarded quite a few times by the local government for his stupendous work.
He, however, suggests that the State government should intervene and constitute a department which would not only regulate the market prices for these products but also help remove fake products by authorizing the authenticity of genuine products.