Namdas are 700 year old traditional carpets of Kashmir as beautiful and unique as Kashmir herself.
They are known for their bright colors and lovely floral designs and come in varied sizes, some of them small enough to be used as prayer mats. These carpets are rare in nature as they are not made by wool weaving but wool felting which is pressing the pure sheep wool together in a long, back breaking process. The craft is said to have traveled from Iran to Kashmir when a Sufi saint brought along a master craftsman to teach various art forms as a livelihood option to the locals. Kashmir is indebted to that saint till date as the valley of Kashmir is till date know for her delicate crafts.
Felting is one of the oldest craft where soap water and compression causes the agitated wool to stick together.Aari Kaam’ using colorful dyed threads with the ‘aari’ needle is carried out for traditional namdas. In this beautiful but ever turbulent war inflicted valley artisans have worked very hard to survive the art but the number of artisans have sharply declined to 100 as the renumeration is not sufficient for the extensive labor the art demands. The exports have dropped 98% in just a decade which is shocking for any trade.
Despite the odds, there are people who take pride in their traditions and are working hard to preserve this art. Arifa Jan is one such notable entrepreneur who has taken up on the daunting task of reviving Namda. Zufa Iqbal is another proud daughter of Kashmir. She has invented Namda rolling machine to help the felting process and greatly reduce the number of working hours of the artisans. With such passionate young people coming forward, we need more entrepreneurs to save this age old art and dedicated artisans.