Srinagar: Mastercraftsman Ghulam Mohammad Beigh was recently offered Rs. 10 lakh by a businessman for an antique ‘jamawar’ shawl owned by the family. However, Beigh refused the offer and said it was not for sale. He said the shawl was part of their family collection.
Now, for the past two years, master craftsman Ghulam Mohammad Beigh has been doing Sozni embroidery on a ‘jamawar’ shawl at his residence in the Donipora Zadibal area of the old city.
Beigh family recipient of several awards
The Beigh family has been doing sozni work on Pashmina shawls for generations and has won several state, national and international awards. The walls of the room where he works are dotted with frames of award certificates received by the family. Few other artisans too can be found in the room doing embroidery on Pashmina shawls and suits.
Pointing towards a ‘jamawar shawl’ he has been working on for the past two years, Beigh said it will take him a year more to complete the product. Stating that the shawl would cost Rs 3.5 lakh once completed, the award-winning artisan says he works from 8.00 am in the morning till dusk every day.
‘Junoon’ of making sozni masterpieces
While the artisan gets Rs. 3.5 lakh only after three years of hard work, the shawl can sell for double the price later in the art market.
Beigh said his family had a ‘Junoon’ of making masterpieces.
“Our family has a ‘Junoon’ of making masterpieces. We have won a number of state and national awards. Our father, grandfather, and even our great grandfather all were craftsmen. Our children too are doing this work,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
‘Today’s youth want shortcuts, instant fame’
However, he regretted that today’s generations wanted shortcuts and quick fame.
“There is no dearth of work even today but no one wants to do work on a single shawl for two years. New artisans come to learn this craft but there is no patience. Nowadays, youth want shortcuts and instant fame. We only looked for honor and recognition but today they want awards as well as money,” said Beigh.
Director, Handicrafts and Handloom, Kashmir, Mahmood Ahmad Shah said the Beigh family had even won an award internationally.
“This family has won several state and national awards. In England, one of the (Beigh) family members was once declared ‘master of all craftsmen’ during a competition in which around 300 people took part,” Shah told The Kashmir Monitor.
‘Sozni work’ on Srinagar Crafts Safari itinerary
Incidentally, one can see artisans like those from the Beigh family doing ‘sozni’ work on Pashmina shawls and suits in the old city area of Zadibal during the ‘Srinagar Crafts Safari’ that has been started by the Handicrafts Department recently. The safari was started in the wake of Srinagar making it to the coveted list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Crafts and Folk Arts Category for the year 2021.
Director, Handicrafts and Handloom said they had started the Srinagar Craft Safari as part of efforts to give a boost to the handicrafts sector.
“We have started the Srinagar Craft Safari in different parts of old Srinagar city so that the people come to know about the rich handicraft products. Through the safari, people will also meet the artisans and see how different handicraft products are made,” he said.
Srinagar sixth Indian city on UNESCO list
This year, Srinagar’s application was forwarded to UNESCO on June 29 by the Government of India (GoI) and now this nomination is the global recognition to the rich craft legacy of Srinagar.
Pertinently, the dossier for nomination for Srinagar as a creative city was first filed by Srinagar in 2019. However, only two cities – Hyderabad for Gastronomy and Mumbai for Film were chosen that year. Prior to year 2019, only three Indian cities had been recognized as members of creative cities – Jaipur (Crafts and Folk Arts) in 2015, Varanasi (Creative city of Music) in 2015 and Chennai (Creative city of Music) in 2017.