Wood Carving & Lacquerware of Jammu & Kashmir

Wood craft in Kashmir flourished from the 11th century onwards when the people were allowed to freely procure wood from the forests. A grand wooden palace with an overhanging balcony was built by Emperor Badshah Zain-ul-Abadin of Kashmir which set the trend for the present style of houses found in Kashmir today. Fine lattice work called acche-dar and azli-pinjra encloses the balconies and windows to give privacy. Fine lattice work screens owing their origin to the lattice work done originally in the windows of old houses are also famous in this region.

The craft of wood-carving in walnut wood is famous all over Kashmir with the Chinar leaf design being the most famous pattern amongst local and tourists. The main attractions include folding tables, flower pots, centre tables, dining table sets and tea-mixing barrels. The products are generally left with natural finish and sometimes the motif itself is raised to make it more attractive.

Deodar is a variety of pine favoured by wood-carvers as it repels insects naturally and has a beautiful grain and natural colour. Walnut wood is known as dun in Kashmir and has a light-brown grainy texture and is good for delicate chiselling. European traders encouraged walnut carving, helping it become a highly ornamental art with animal and bird motifs decorating the tops of jewellery boxes, large tables, trays, picture frames, cabinets, vases, lamps, screens, writing desks and finely carved bowls. Chikri (buxux semperuiens), a type of wood which is smooth and ivory-coloured grows in Rajouri district, is used to make combs, spoons and sandals with a hand driven lathe. Wood lacquering is a very popular craft at Anantnag in Kashmir. Lac is a kind of resin which is coloured and used to emboss motifs or highlight carved patterns onto wood.