Kashmir’s handcrafted pashmina shawls could soon be a thing of the past. The proliferation of machine-made pashmina products has become a big threat to the livelihood of the state’s artisans who have been spinning and weaving pashmina for ages. According to the Jammu and Kashmir handicraft department, the export of pashmina shawls fell from Rs 579.72 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 368.20 crore in 2014-15, declining by around 26 percent.
“A Kashmiri handmade product is easily identified for its softness and quality weaving just because the artisans would utilize genuine raw material. But to save a few pennies, people resorted to the use of second-grade material and are relying on machines that brought our craft a bad name and discouraged people from buying it” says Zahoor Ahmad.
Zahoor Ahmad, a washer-man (Dhobi) from Budgam relates how handicraft shawls are losing their quality and it is affecting their work. Watch the video: