Since the nineteenth century, Kashmir has been best known for painted, carved, or lacquered wood, papier-mâché objects, chased and enameled metal wares, and textiles. Although shawls have received the most attention in the modern era, the traditions of elaborate metalwork for domestic and ritual paraphernalia extend back at least to the eighth century. Kashmiri artists were also quick to adapt enameling and papier-mâché techniques introduced from abroad to their native resources and tastes.

The Kashmir Valley has long been celebrated for its fine pashmina wool from the domestic goat. The special qualities of Srinagar’s Jhelum River were legendary for producing the softest shawls and carpets in the world. The Mughal emperors established Lahore (in present-day Pakistan) and the Kashmir Valley as weaving centers where thousands of looms were constructed to supply both domestic and international markets.

The presence of unique local motifs is found across mediums. Common designs such as the chinar leaf and the poppy pattern reflect the region’s natural elements. Floral motifs like the rosette or coriander flower have also remained staple decorative designs in Kashmir and can be found in metalwork, papier-mâché objects, and textiles in endless variety and combination.


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