Heaven for art lovers

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Kashmirs Government arts Emporium

  • Emporium provides an opportunity to artisans to showcase their products
  • ‘Traders at our emporium never compromise with the quality of their products’
  • ‘Silk on silk type carpet is also known as commercial carpet and the price per square feet is Rs 1500’

By Rabiya Bashir

The Government Arts Emporiumoffers a unique look into the world of Kashmiri culture.

A visit to the main showroom, near Abdullah Bridge in Srinagar, of the Emporium is enough to get the glimpses of the diversified culture of the Valley.

A visitor can dedicate an entire day at the government emporium from one room to the next as the emporium displays the rich handicrafts of the Valley.

The emporium has four unique showrooms in Srinagar, one each in Jammu, Katra, and Ladakh. It also has showrooms in other states across the country.

The elegant and colorful art form on the beautifully crafted products provides a spiritual feel to the visitors.

One side of the showroom, with rich carpets and Ari Namda, displays the rich history of Kashmir, while, on another side, the hefty walnut dining table and paper machie items are mesmerizing.

Some of the hand-woven carpets, some casually flung onto a walnut sofa explains the vastness of the emporium and its treasures.

Ranging from 8000 up to lakhs, the pashmina shawls consist of different types like Kani, Jamawar which are worth Rs 80k are also worth buying at the emporium. The price of one meter deep crafted crewel curtain is worth Rs 1000. 

“I have displayed almost hundreds pieces of handicrafts products here. There are different motifs made at each design,” said a salesman at the emporium.

One of the managers of Government Arts Emporium,Parvez Ahmad, said that the showroom is the best example of quality masterpieces of handicrafts. “Besides offering the handicraft products, the emporium provides an opportunity to the best artisans to showcase their unique handmade quality products,” he says.

“On daily basis, our artisans gives us the best quality handicraft products. We select the products and supply them to the other showrooms in different states of the country,” says Ahmed.

Offering a wide variety of products, from Paper machie, Pashmina shawls, copperware, Ari embroidery and Sozni suits, walnut products, Kashmiri carpets to the home décor items, the emporium serves as the cultural hub and perfect heaven for all the art lovers.

The showrooms also offer different varieties of Kashmiri Ari embroidery suits, pherans, coats, gowns, and shawls. Crewel embroidered curtains, walnut sofas, furniture, dining table displayed in the three rooms inside the showroom is a treat to the eyes.

The chain stitched items hanging on the walls at the entrance of the main showroom, colorful paper machie vases, graceful table lamps, copperware samovar, and the antique masterpieces of walnuts and paper machie items on a roundtable adds to the overall charm and beauty of the centuries-old showroom of the emporium.

Ahmad said the emporium represents the vibrant culture of the Kashmir. “The traders at our emporium never compromise with the quality of their products. They bring out best artefacts for the visitors,” he said.

He said that the rates of items differ as it depends on the kind of item, work, quality, and designs.

“We have fully carved and seasoned carved walnut items. We also have regular paper machie items which are cheaper and made by local artisans and master paper machie items which are expensive but made by the experienced master artisans of the Kashmir,” he says.

He says that the rates of small items starts from Rs 4000 up and can go upto in lakhs. “The price of a fully crafted walnut dining table starts from Rsone lakh to five lakhs. Likewise, the walnut bed ranges from 40 thousand,” he says.

Ahmad said that the walnut wood is first soaked in water for about six months to prevent it from bending, damage and other harmful effects.

He said that there are two types of carpet; one is silk on cotton and the other is silk on silk. “The Silk on silk type is also known as commercial carpet and the price per square feet is Rs 1500. Another type is worth Rs 35000 per square feet.” 

In addition to the handicrafts, the place boasts of a peaceful ambiance, intensified by the centuries-old heritage and regal interiors.

Reviving History

The beautiful centuries-old brick building is desperatein need of restoration. The history of the vast building almost dates back to the Srinagar city itself. 

It was made functional by the British in 1945. Earlier, the emporium was a profitable venture however the sales have declined.

“Earlier, there was a huge response of the national as well as the local tourists; but now very less tourists are visiting our showrooms,” said an official at the showroom.

He said 75 percent tourists have declined to five percent only. “Even, the number of local visitors have declined. We are receiving funds from the government; but the emporium needs more attention and efforts for its revival.”

Ahmadsince the implementation of GST, there are less buyers for the handicraft items.

“After including GST to the items, a carpet worth Rs one lakh becomes 1 lakh and 15 thousand for buyers which the customer feel bit expensive,” he said.  

He also appealed to the Tourism Department to mention the Government Arts Emporium in their promotional activities.

The treasure trove needs promotion and awareness among the masses more than ever.

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