Explained: How Srinagar earned UNESCO creative tag

What is the news?

Recently, UNESCO has selected Srinagar as part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) under the Crafts and Folk Arts category. Srinagar became one of 49 cities worldwide to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN).

About the inclusion of Srinagar in UCCN

The Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO had recommended Srinagar and Gwalior for inclusion in the list of UCCN. Only Srinagar got included in the list.

Note: Srinagar had applied in 2018 too, but that application got rejected.

About the Art & craft of Srinagar

Entire central Kashmir is known for its varied craft traditions. Srinagar, Ganderbal and Budgam districts of Kashmir are known for ages in making handicrafts products. Such as textiles, carpets and rugs, crewel embroidery, silverware, woodwork and papier-mâché (moulded, a repulped paper that has been mixed with glue or paste).

Wooden Crafts: The wood comes from walnut trees, which grow at 7,000 feet above sea level. These woods are used to make tables, jewellery boxes and trays.

Pashmina shawl: It is one of the best-quality shawls in the world, made up of wild Asian mountain goats. Srinagar region is the epicentre of high-quality, intricately woven woollen material like shawls, carpets and rugs.

Papier-mâché:

Papier-mâché
Papier-mâché
Source: Swadesi

It is said to have been brought to Kashmir by saint Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani from Persia in the 14th century. It is based primarily on creating colourful utility and decorative objects using paper pulp — vases, bowls, cups, boxes, trays and lamp bases. The art is concentrated mainly around downtown Srinagar and employs around 35,000 artisans.

Benefits of the UCCN tag to Srinagar

The crafts have been struggling ever since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 put artisans in an indefinite lockdown, followed by the Covid-19 lockdown. Besides, frequent Internet shutdowns have cut artisans off from the rest of the country.

The UCCN tag would not only give global recognition to Srinagar but also help it in getting international funding, making tie-ups with craft universities, and pitching crafts as products.

Note: For the first time, Union Territory Administration will create a database of their expertise and help them showcase products to a global audience.

Source: This post is based on the following article UNESCO picks Srinagar as creative city published in Indian Express on 10th November 2021.

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