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No money, no work: Coppersmiths switch over to shawl weaving in Kashmir

Srinagar:  On a sunny Friday afternoon, 25-year-old Mudasir Ahmad Dar from Pattan weaves a shawl with a hope to make some few bucks for managing his expenses in the lockdown.

Weaving shawls is not a skill that Dar is known for. With an association of more than one decade, Dar has mastered copperware art which fetched him enough money to support his family of seven.

Come March 23, the government announced lockdown due to which the flow of raw material for copperware declined considerably.

After remaining idle for nearly a month, Dar had to temporarily switch over to shawl weaving to eke out his living.

“This was the season for me to earn enough money. We would get enough orders for designing copperware for the marriage season. Like other trades, the copperware manufacturers and craftsmen are suffering immensely,” he said.

Dar is not an isolated case. The majority of the artisans in Kashmir narrate similar ordeals. The craftsmen said that the lockdown has rendered them jobless.

 “Our sufferings have doubled in the current month. We finished our previous orders in April and since then we have no work,” said Sajad Ahmad, another coppersmith.

The dealers said that there has been a decline in the flow of raw material from other states.

“We would get the raw material from different states. As shops couldn’t open in Kashmir, the production of copperware declined considerably. Both the dealers as well as craftsmen are now suffering. We haven’t earned anything for the last two months,” said Ali Mohammad Bhat, a dealer from Srinagar. Pertinently, copperware is a cumbersome process involving blacksmith, Zardoz (gilder), polisher, and cleaner.  The artisans or craftsmen mostly work on vessels including bowls, plates, traditional samovar, and other utensils