Craftsmanship crunch: Artisans struggle amidst Kangri sales slump

Kupwara, Jan 6: Wrapped in the warmth of a customary Kashmiri Pheran, Abdul Khaliq Dar, the resilient Kangri seller, has been patiently awaiting customers for the past two days.

However, the air around his cart in the main town of Handwara remains eerily silent, devoid of any eager patrons. The vibrant hues of his Kangris seem to fade against the backdrop of disheartening emptiness, leaving Abdul Khaliq disconsolate.

Despite a glimmer of hope when a lone customer approached, the brief inquiry about prices concluded with a departure, leaving the Kangri cart untouched by a single sale. In the heart of Kashmir’s tradition and craftsmanship, a tale of struggle unfolds, echoing the silent woes of artisans battling a slump in sales.

Dar, a resident of Waskhura Handwara has been in Kangri’s selling business for over a decade now.

“Every year I used to sell four thousand Kangris but this year hardly six hundred pieces have been sold to date, the number can rise up to fifteen hundred by the end of winter. ”

“Over the years the demand for Kangris has been significant but the shift towards Hamams by people across Kashmir has hit the business,” Dar said while sitting on his cart yearning for customers.

“Not only Kangri sellers and potters but the craftsmen are facing tough times due to a dip in sales. I procure stock from several craftsmen in Dai Magam, Natnussa, and Kandi and even I go to Botingo and Bandipora to buy additional stock to meet the demand of customers but this year due to a dip in sales, I haven’t moved out of the district to buy the stock,” he added.

Dar believes that due to the surge in Hamams across Kashmir, there has been a considerable dip in the sales of Kangris, adding that “electric Hamams  and use of electronic gadgets have added to this mounting concern.”

“I believe that in the near future, the new generation will not be acquainted with Kangri due to the transition from traditional to modern heating systems,” Abdul told this correspondent.

Kangri makers are also concerned about a dip in sales. “I would make three Kangris in a single day but due to low demand, the number has gone down to one. I have been in Kangri making for the last thirty years and would earn a substantial amount but due to the dip in sales this year, I have made up my mind to take a transition towards another profession,” a Kangri maker from Dai Magam said.

“Kangri has been a traditional and cheap heating gadget over the years for Kashmiris and the need of the hour is to preserve it. People in Kashmir have become indolent besides modernisation has taken a toll on this traditional heating gadget,” said Dr Basharat.

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