On the onset of winter, Kanger or ember filled pot becomes the most sought after thing in Kashmir. Not only it warms up the chilly hours, but it also exhibits the culture of the place. Kashmir Life’s Bilal Bahadur captures the making and the marketing of Kangri.
Kanger is a pot filled with hot embers used by Kashmiris beneath their traditional clothing to keep the chill at bay. It is also regarded as a work of art.
Kanger continues to be the main, inexpensive source of keeping an individual warm during the winter months.
As mercury dips on the arrival of winter, many shops in summer capital of J&K, Srinagar can be seen crowded with kangris.
To keep chill at bay, people are busy buying kangris in Srinagar’s Batamaloo area.
But before arriving to markets, this is how kangri making starts. A kanger is made up of two parts. The outer part is an encasement of wicker. Inside, there is an earthen bowl-shaped pot called a kondul, made by potter.
The kondul holds the tsini, charcoal, and tyongal. The kondal vary in size according to the size of the kanger.
Once moulded, pots are dried under sun for a time being before baked in furnace.
After the earthen pots are moulded, these are sold to the artisans who complete the wickerwork around them, erect two arms to handle the pot, and colour it to give an aesthetically delicate shape.
It is generally believed that Kashmiris learnt the art of the Kangeri making from the Italians who were in the retinue of the Mughal emperors, and usually visited the Valley during summer.
In Kashmiri folklore the kanger has occupied a prominent place. It is a constant companion of Kashmiris during the winter months. It is normally kept inside the Kashmiri cloak, the ph’aran, or inside a blanket if the person does not wear a ph’aran.
This female in Wakai village in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district is busy colouring wicker. Major chunk of village population thrives on kageri making.
In Wakai village, people cutting across all age groups are making kangris for the living. Apart from this southern village, kangris are being making in Char-i-Shrief, Shahabad, Bandipore and in other parts of the Valley.
The final product then goes to the market.
Kangeri existed prior to Budshah in Kashmir. At least, Kalhana’s Rajtaringini claims that: “Man’s endeavour resembles the embers in the Kangri which some times burn when apprently extinguished and sometimes go out , although kindled , by puffs of air , at the will of fate .”
Today, when gas stoves, heaters, and specially made hamams are available, majority of people in Kashmir still prefer kanger to face the hostile months beginning from October.