Making Of Kashir Tchader (Kashmiri Blanket)

by Farzana Nisar

For centuries, Kashmir has been weaving its own blankets, the Tchader in Kashmir and Chadder in Urdu. Weaving has remained basic to Kashmir’s economy. The availability of wool locally, a lot of population willing to spin the wheel and a huge skilled population knowing what is the best that suits the population were key elements that kept the wheel in motion. A demand would keep things consuming.

That was perhaps why there is a huge diversity in the making of Kashir Tchader – a variety being made in Bandipore may be completely a different version of what is available in Kokenarg. Even the blankets being woven in Chenab valley are completely different.

Khee Jogipora is a small village in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. It is addressed to some of the oldest handloom weavers in Kashmir. Since the advent of the power loom, this flourishing art started facing difficulties, and most of the artisans shifted to power looms. But some families are still striving to keep the dying art alive.

This is despite the fact that Kashmir has stopped consuming most of the wool it produces and is hugely relying on imports from neighbouring states for its woollen products including blankets. Still, there are some people who prefer the Tchader and that is what keeps these wheels moving, albeit in slow motion.

This brief photo story is about a weaver, Manzoor Ahmad Malik.

It all begins from the wheel. Now the wheel is slightly lighter, faster and hugely improvised. It is one of Manzoor’s relatives working. KL Image: Farzana Nisar
This yarn is the raw material for all kind of weaves in Kashmir if they are woollen. KL Image: Farzana Nisar
Manzoor Ahmad is working on his loom, a routine for most of his life. KL Image: Farzana Nisar
A master weaver, Manzoor makes a selection of the coloured fibre for his blanket’s border. These borders are literal signatures of the craftsmen. In certain cases, these act as a sort of Geographic Indication with people able to read which border belongs to which area. KL Image: Farzana Nisar
The final product, the Kashir Tchader is ready for the sale. KL Image: Farzana Nisar

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