The state of Jammu & Kashmir consists of three distinctly separate regions - Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
Here, the history of craft dates back to the neolithic handmade pottery of Burzahom in Kashmir (2300 to 1500 BC), and stone-age tools and pottery unearthed at Akhnoor and Ambaran in Jammu.
The barren and majestic region of Ladakh, one of highest inhabited places on earth, has its roots in an essentially tribal culture and its first inhabitants were nomadic shepherds. Zain-ul-Abadin, popularly known as the Great Badshah, ruled from 1421 to 1472. Sending for craftsmen from Central Asia and Arabia, he is credited with building the strong foundations of organised and exquisite craftsmanship that was to make Kashmir famous the world over. All types of skilled artisans came into Kashmir and co-existed or fused with the strong, indigenous traditions of weaving, pottery, stone-work and jewellery. Some of the newer crafts were paper-making, calligraphy, papier-mache, silk making and weaving.
The sophistication of highly evolved crafts like shawls, carpets, embroidered fabric, wood-work and jewellery is offset by the presence of utility craft like the mud-pot, the home spun shawl, the kangri, or fire pot, the willow basket and the glittering copper tea-kettle. In Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, it is the trees and flowers, birds and streams, the awesome mountains and the eternal snows that have consistently stirred the consciousness of the creative craftman. A deep and binding relationship with the land sharpens the artistic awareness of the craftspeople.
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