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Kashmir is one of the few places in the world where the walnut tree grows at a height of 5,500 feet to 7,500 feet above sea level. Walnut wood carving is one of the important crafts in the state. Walnut wood furniture occupies pride of place in Kashmiri households; it is also an essential constituent in a bride’s wedding trousseau.
The wood for carving comes from either the root or the trunk of the tree. The peculiar characteristics of the walnut wood facilitate exquisitely detailed and intricate carving. Downtown Srinagar is strewn with walnut wood workshops where you find craftsmen, renowned for their carving skills, bent over the wood, chiselling and polishing. They meticulously carve out motifs of grape bunches, chinar leaves, pears, rose, etc., in the wood
Carved walnut wood-work is among the most important crafts of Kashmir. Kashmir is now one of the few places in the world where walnut is still available at an altitude of 5500-7500 feet above see level. The wood is hard and durable, its close grain and even texture facilitating fine and detailed work. It also presents visually interesting effects with mere plain polished surfaces in fact in contemporary products, plain surfaces and small carvings are preferred, especially on trays, tables, bowls and similar items.
The Kashmir craftsman, however, rejoices in carving intricate and varied designs. A variety of carved products bear recurrent motifs of the rose, lotus, iris, bunches of grapes, pears and chinar leaves. Dragon motifs and patterns taken from kani and embroidered shawls all find their place in wooden objects with deep relief carving.
A variety of articles, both decorative and utilitarian, ranging from small items like bowls, trays, cigarette boxes, wall plaques and table lamps to screens, bedsteads and larger items of furniture are carved in walnut wood. Four main types of carving are usually practised in Kashmir-raised, engraved, undercut and plain.
The carving of furniture and smaller items is an elaborate process and involves high degree of skill and craftsmanship. The carving is done with the help of small indigenous tools. The art of wood carving is centred in the city of Srinagar