Last time we stopped our journey of the prized and loved walnut wood carving at the Carpenter (Kashmiri chaan). Today I am going to take you beyond that point till the end of our journey of walnut wood. From manufacturing of walnut wood trees into fashionable planks and giving the final finishing touches to it using the local tools and techniques, our walnut wood has now reached the Naqash, our craftsman.
From here the wood undergoes a series of steps, these are:
1. Inscribing (locally lyeakhun): The first step in this journey is inscribing the motif to be done on the wood, onto the walnut wood with the help of a pencil, which serves as the base line for the Naqash.
2. Marking/punching (dagun): It involves digging out the material according to the drawn pencil lines. It is done with the help of chisels called Daagi voul and a mallet called thaap.
3. Zameen kadun: This step involves a deeper digging around the motifs so as to obtain the required depth of the relief.
4. Giving shape (guzar dyun): Next is giving a broader outline to the inner intricacies within the motif. It determines the actual shape to be given to the motifs.
5. Texture (sumb kadun): Sumb kaddun is the final step in the carving of the walnut wood, still in its raw form. The Sumb is a nail like tool with teeth like structure. This process involves usage of nails with specially crafted teeth at the edges which are gently sued for rendering the surface with uniform pattern compromising a series of dots.
6. Polishing or Finishing: The last step in the walnut wood carving is the polishing and finishing given to the item before it can be sent out to the market. The person engaged with this work is called Roshan gaar.
There are three steps involved in the finishing process.
• The wood is first smoothened with a sand paper. The various sand papers used are No.60, No.80, No.100, and No.120. To give dark color to the product a solution is used to coat it. This solution is prepared by boiling walnut bark in water, which is then applied onto the carved product.
• The wood is then rubbed with a semi-precious stone pullet which is fastened at the end of a specially crafted pen holder (kalam).
• After the application of pullet, a wax polish (mansion) is applied with the help of cotton rags (khaddar) and left to dry for 3-24 hours, depending on the nature of the product. In case of high relief work the polish is applied in between the inner intricacies by means of brush. The polish is applied in 5-6 coats.
Ta Da! Our walnut wood product is now all done and ready to be taken out in the air, into the world of art and amidst the lovers of craft to decor up their homes and world.
Now let me take you into the world of varied and lovely motifs which are used in the walnut wood carving. The popular motifs in woodcarving are mostly based on floral themes and are traditionally associated with some other Kashmiri crafts like Paper Mache, shawl work etc.
1. Gul Tarah (Flower Motif): This motif or design uses various flowers in a stylized version. The flowers may be depicted individually, as a bouquet or in the form of a plant with branches.
2. Dach Tarah (Grapes Motif): One of the most popular motif in wood carving as well as paper Mache is the depiction of grapes along with the leaves and vine.
3. Badam Tarah (Almond Motif): The almond motif is rendered in this design in a stylized manner similar to that employed in shawls. Inspired by the blossoms of almonds in the valley this motif is very popular among the artisan’s circle of Kashmir.
4. Gass-i-Tarah (Grass): This motif is usually based on the grass textures, of plants and seeds and is inclusive of the water plants and flowers as well, like lotus.
5. Bhoni Tarah (Chinar Motif): This design is based on the famous Chinar leaf pattern and is one of the most popular motifs being employed in the market.
6. Janavar ti Jandhar Tarah (Animal and Animate Motif): This design depicts various birds, animals and aquatic animal species on the wood, mainly those species that are found in Kashmir.
7. Jungle Tarah (Jungle of the surrounding physical landscape like Scenes): This design is a refinement of the Janavar Tarah and includes the depiction of the mountain, pine trees and streams etc. The beauty of Kashmir has been an inspiration of many artists and has been captured in many forms to immortalize its essence, wood carving being one of them.
8. Aghdar Dhar (Snake motif): The design is based on the snake motif and it usually employs the depiction of the reptile in a pair.
So that was all about Kashmir Walnut Wood Carving, in a summarized form. This beautiful craft has been admired by one and all, since the times of its inception here in Kashmir. Earlier carving was mainly done on the walls, doors and pillars of shrines, Mosques and on the royal buildings. With the passage of time walnut artisans made walnut wood gifts for Kings and high profile personalities. This gave popularity to the craft and wood carving craft began to flourish.
In today’s contemporary market, Kashmiri walnut carving is recognizable because of its color and the tone and its combination with local craftsmanship depicting certain established motifs in a highly intricate and miniaturized form in the traditional established styles. Walnut wood has an inherit sheen which comes on its own when polished with wax. Walnut wood in natural form as well as in carved form has been used for making elegant furniture and home décor since its inception.
Check out the amazing collection of this intricate craft, Kashmir Walnut Wood , straight from the home of Naqash, into a display of fineness and décor.