Srinagar: India’s only Nuno felting artisan Farooq Khan merged the Nuno felting technique with Kashmir traditional handicrafts to create such a craft which is not found anywhere in the world. Farooq has been able to blend the two crafts to give a new life to the traditional crafts of Kashmir and his products are loved all over the world. Technology created in Australia and used in Japan, this artisan combined this art with the traditional handicrafts of Kashmir, which has brought out the latest form of traditional “Namda” and silk carpets and scarfs of Kashmir.
Nuno felting is a fabric felting technique used to press loose fibres, usually sheep’s wool, into soft fabrics such as silk. It was developed in Australia decades ago and now a Kashmiri craftsman has incorporated the same technique when making traditional Kashmiri namdas, rugs and silk scarfs. It took Khan years to learn this craft and later created these innovative products that are sold across the globe. Khan met a designer from Delhi who saw his talent, and both did wonders together.
“She (a designer from Delhi) said that I want to work with you, then she came here and showed me this, asked if I can make it. I said that I have neither seen nor made this but will try. I started first and got 10% success but I kept trying again. It took me a year to learn this technique,” said Farooq Khan, Nuno Felting Artisan.
Khan’s family has been making crafts in Namda for decades, and it was his efforts that led to the incorporation of many new designs and techniques into the traditional art of Kashmir. He says he wants to give a new life to the traditional crafts of Kashmir with these products which he adores a lot.
Farooq Khan said, “I have been making Namdas for 25 years. I wanted to save time and make something new as well. Then my father gave me this advice upon which I worked and slowly kept moving forward.”
Khan is working on these new techniques with a private craft organization but is not happy with the government policies towards artisans and says, “they are not providing any assistance to further promote this craft. One has to travel outside the valley for raw materials. We have to bring back the designs of our forefathers’ era and I have started work on that too.”
Farooq Khan claims that he is the only craftsman in India who uses this technique. “As far as I know, no one else does it, even I have been doing it only for the last two years, it is a new technology which needs hard work, and hard work pays.
There is no dearth of craftsmen in Kashmir, but this is the first example of combining old traditional crafts with the changing modern techniques and if all goes well, the age-old handicrafts of Kashmir will get a new life.