Timely intervention by the Jammu and Kashmir administration has infused a new lease of life in the craft which was the prime occupation of common households in the Valley during the British era.
The timeless wicker craft was brought here in Kashmir centuries back. It got a huge boost during the British era, but gradually this art was waning.
However, after the 2014 financial scheme for the revival of this craft, the designer came from outside to train in developing new and modern designs.
According to Abid Mehraj, cluster development officer, “World Bank sanctioned loan under which the handicraft and handloom sector was incorporated, the best intervention in that project was that four crafts were incorporated, including willow wickerwork.”
Following the World Bank guidelines, a consultant agency from Kolkata was hired and tasked to train the willow wicker artisans. “Only after one workshop our master artisans had with them, we got orders from outside and leading online retailers.
Considered to be the youngest art in the valley’s handicrafts spectrum, wicker work involves making baskets, trays, chairs, tables and even beds using long and slender branches of willow bushes that grow in the marshy lands of Kashmir.
In order to support the wicker willow artisans, the government has made societies and announced a number of measures to strengthen the artisan base under the Handicrafts and Loom policy launched in 2020. They have registered most of our wicker willow artisans at Ganderbal and Charar-e-Sharif.