“This land is Kashmir! the Switzerland of India. Every person would wish to visit this paradise on earth once in his/her lifetime “.
These beautiful words are the perfect description of Jammu and Kashmir which is popularly known as “heaven on earth” in India. Most of the Bollywood movies would have been incomplete without a song sequence in the mesmerizing valleys of Kashmir.
Surrounded by the mighty Himalayan ranges, has some of the most beautiful valleys like the Kashmir Valley, Tawi Valley, Chenab Valley, Punch Valley, Sindh Valley and Lidder Valley which are extremely famous for their scenery and this state has some of the most beautiful gardens such as Mughal gardens, Gulmarg to name a few.
Apart from these tourist attractions, Kashmir is also famous for its handicrafts like Kashmiri carpets, shawls, wood carvings, Phool Kari, Basohli painting, Namdas, Calico painting etc., which are admired by people in India and abroad.
One such rare, unique and age-old of Kashmir handicraft is the NAMDAS MATTRESS.
These mattresses are made by felting the wool rather than weaving it which makes it even more special, in the making of these mattresses a low-quality wool mixed with a small quantity of cotton.
As mentioned earlier Namdas is made by felting the wool which is a unique process where fibers are pressed together unlike weaving where two distinct sets of threads are interlaced to form a fabric or cloth, it is interesting to know that Namdas is one of the few set of mattresses which are made by felting which makes them unique and worth buying,
Now coming to the embroidery work done on them, these have some beautiful works which were earlier made from woolen yarn but in the recent times, acrylic yarn are in use.
The origin of this mattress dates back to the 11th century when Akbar, the great Mughal ruler was on the throne. History of that period reveals that the king ordered his exchequer to arrange for a suitable cover for his horse which was suffering from biting cold. In response to the proclamation that was made in this regard, a wise old man from the east stood up and offered his intention to offer help in this regard, he was ‘Nubi’. The man manufactured the felt himself and embroidered the same with multicolored beautiful designs. The felt made was given the title of Namda after the name of its manufacturer Nubi. It is said that King Akbar was immensely impressed by the work of Nubi and is said to have granted him villages in his honor.
Though these have originated from Yarkand they have their manufacturing industries in Ananthnag, Rainawari and Baramula. The Namdas industry has seen highs as well as lows, when Namda was termed as marvel of interior designing in an international level and was exported in various counties in Europe, but slowly the industry saw a setback, and the profits reduced which resulted in compromising with the quality of fibre used, when this was tested by a Japanese client and he found low quality of fibre used in its making which resulted in banning its imports to Japan
Due to these developments, the Namdas industry took a setback for a few years, but in the recent years a 29yr old entrepreneur Miss Arifa Jan revived the art of Namda making it in a way that makes no compromise on quality and she is doing everything to restore this craft to its original glory. To make this possible, Miss Arifa Jan has started her own brand Incredible Kashmir Craft (IKC) that is rebuilding the lost grandeur of Namdas
So here , I request everyone to visit this “heaven on earth” , the Kashmir and purchase the beautiful handicrafts sold there specially the Namdas mattress in order to encourage the manufacturers to produce more handlooms and handicrafts , build the state’s economy with the crisis it is suffering from and this will intern help the poor who manufacture them as for some it’s the only source of income in this land.