Srinagar: The last three months have been busiest for 38-year-old Mukhtar Ahmad Kumar, a potter from Baramulla.
Kumar, who imbibed this craft from his ancestors, usually makes pots and other clay utensils.
For the last three months, he and his family have been making “Tumbaknaris”, a traditional musical instrument usually used during marriages, on a mass scale.
During marriage season, which begins from August till November, Tumbaknaris have a good demand across the valley, giving the potters a reason to cash in on the festive season.
“The process of making Tumbaknaris starts in June. Till the first week of August, we make more than 1000 Tumbaknaris and later sell them during the marriage season,” he said.
A Tumbaknari, as per Kumar, costs from Rs 200 to Rs 500 depending upon the material and artwork on the instrument.
Tumbaknari is a traditional Kashmiri drum, which is cast in a clay funnel-like case. The instrument is a symbol of celebration and joy in its resonant and melodic tones.
Kumar said the demand for this musical instrument grows up to 70 percent during August and September.
“During August, we sell almost 300 Tumbaknaris. In September, when a lot of marriage functions take place, our orders grow up to 600,” he said.
Abdul Rehman Khan, a veteran potter said: “Tumbaknari is not just an instrument; it’s an essential part of our culture. It signifies the start of new beginnings, and its rhythmic beats are believed to bring happiness and good fortune to the newlyweds.”
While he claimed that potters are gradually giving up this craft, he said the bulk sales of Tumbaknari during the wedding season are boosting their morale to continue this art.
“If we see that the majority of the potters here in Kashmir are not making a good living out of this craft. A lot of potters gave up this profession. It is during such occasions that potters make some money,” Khan said.
The process of making a Tumbaknari begins with the careful selection of clay, followed by shaping, firing, and intricate hand-painting. Each drum is a unique work of art, reflecting the artisan’s creativity and dedication to preserving Kashmir’s cultural heritage.