SRINAGAR: Ghulam Nabi Dar, a 72-year-old master woodcarver from Srinagar, has been honoured with the Padma Shri award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the art of wood carving.
Born into adversity, Dar found solace and purpose in a wood carving at a young age. “I faced a lot of difficulties in learning this art. I went to several craftsmen, but they turned me away, saying I wouldn’t be able to learn. But I was determined and worked hard,” Dar said.
Dar’s perseverance eventually led him to a mentor, Nooruddin Tikoo, who played a pivotal role in shaping his artistic journey. “Tikoo had suffered a stroke, and his right hand was paralyzed. When he heard my story, he said he would still teach me through designs made on paper. I followed his instructions, and he taught me this art,” Dar recalled.
His artistic prowess flourished as he transitioned from traditional designs to creating unique works inspired by nature. The recognition of his talent came in the form of a state award in 1984, followed by opportunities to work abroad, including Baghdad in the early 1990s. His craftsmanship reached new heights when he received the National Award in 1995-96.
Reflecting on the recent Padma Shri honour, Dar expressed gratitude, emphasizing its role in encouraging craftsmen. “When a craftsman gets an award, any award, he gets encouragement. He tries to go further in the field. If the government does not encourage the artisans, they lose interest,” he remarked.
Dar underscored the crucial role of government support in preserving traditional arts and urged the establishment of comprehensive institutions or workshops to train and incentivize young artisans, ensuring the continued legacy of wood carving.
With his son following in his footsteps, Dar remains hopeful for the continuity of his craft, stressing the need for sustained interest and support from both the government and the public. (KNS)