SRINAGAR – Arifa Jan of Srinagar’s Lal Bazar area gave a new life to Kashmir’s “Namda Sazi” by adapting modern technology to take the craft to its new heights across the world.
After completing her Bachelor of Commerce or BCom, Arifa did her two-and-a-half year course of Post graduation in Craft Management Entrepreneurship and Leadership course at the Craft Development Institute Srinagar, where her interest in traditional handicrafts began to grow.
“I visited different cities of the country during my internship where I saw the Kashmir made crafts are still popular and in a good demand”, Arifa said.
“I decided to take Kashmir’s “Namda Sazi” craft to new heights by adapting new and modern technology”, Arifa said and added “I set up my own unit in 2012 with five craftsmen who were associated with me in my new business venture to promote the craft”.
Arifa Jan who has been honoured with “Nari Shakti Puraskar” National award this year for her outstanding contribution to the craft development work, besides she is a recipient of United States of America Citizenship Eligibility Certificate, International Visitors Leadership Programme Award and Women Innovators Global Smith 2021 award in her kitty.
Arifa said, “I did not have the resources to set up my own unit but later I was financially supported by two personalities, one of whom was a German woman whom I met during an exhibition in Delhi”.
She said: “Therefore, I have decided to take Kashmir’s “Namda Sazi” craft to new heights by adapting modern technology.”
“We use machines to make different designs and use precious and soft Merino wool instead of local wool to make it more superior and eye-catching for the customers” She said.
A traditional Carpet called “Namda” is usually a sandwich of many layers of wool flattened over each other. After a layer is spread, it is sprinkled homogeneously with water and pressed with a tool known as “Pinjra” or woven willow wicker.
She said there is a huge demand for “Namda’s” from various foreign countries including America, Germany and France” “I do get a lot of orders and earn a good amount of money”, She said.
‘By setting up a “Namda Sazi” unit one can make a better living and can provide employment to others also, she said and added she had 15 employees at present and if my resources manifold she would provide jobs to at least 250 people, she claimed.
Arifa regretted to say that the Jammu and Kashmir government did not help her even though she knocked the doors of many departments for the promotion of “Namda Sazi” craft till date.
Arifa said that if the government pays attention to this sector, it can become a source of efficient employment for millions of people.
She said “Namda Sazi” and other handicrafts are part of our rich culture and we should cherish them and take them to the heights with the modern available technology.
She said we have a large number of handicrafts in Kashmir that are not only declining but have so many crafts which even could not be promoted to bring them into the limelight.
“We have different traditional crafts which could prove gold for the people if developed and promoted properly by the artisans”, she said and added “I have seen artisans in other parts of the world turning trash into gold”.
Arifa said educated women in Kashmir should not only look for a government job but to set up their own handicraft units which would provide employment to other people especially women also.