With Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan donning the Kashmiri Kani Shirt in his latest release Pathaan, the crafts of Kashmir have been highlighted yet again. Kashmir’s craft industry has been gasping for its survival.
The markets have been shrinking and there has been a decline in the number of artisans as well. However, the centuries-old Pashmina and Kani shawl craft industry is being revived with the younger generations of craftsmen and designers in the valley.
The artisans are incorporating the original designs from the 18th century to attract more people towards the craft and with Shahrukh Khan wearing a Kani Shirt, the attention towards the industry has increased.
”Whenever Bollywood celebrities wear Kashmir craft products, it’s bound to highlight the craft. Shah Rukh Khan’s shirt in Pathaan movie is definitely going to get Kani craft more attention. Film advertising also helped to take the crafts to international markets. If Bollywood celebrities wear it, it helps the market a lot.
These Kani shawls are art pieces and take 6 months to one and a half years in making. It’s not one but many artisans which are involved in making a Kani shawl — from spinning the yarn to dying the yarn, designing the shawl.
Kashmir’s Kanihama village is said to be the origin of Pashmina and Kani shawls. These shawls have been worn by celebrities like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and others. Kani Shawl GI tagging and labelling have been done by the government of Jammu and Kashmir for the preservation, promotion and authenticity of the craft. The handicrafts and Handloom department have secured GI for 7 crafts and GI for 17 more crafts is in the pipeline.
”The Kani is a century-old craft, and it was adorned by the emperors. We have been reviving Kani for the last one year. We are trying our best to make those designs again and bring it to people. We have got a great response from people across the world for these Kani Shawls. The market for Pashmina and Kani has always been there, after GI we have seen an increase in the interest of the people.
The new age designers and artisans are now trying to incorporate Kani into various products like jackets, bags, and bridal couture. It will further boost the industry and open new doors for the artisans too.