Mohammed Ahmad Wani
It was in the 16th century when a Persian Sufi saint visited Kashmir along with 700 craftsmen and made it a pint that these craftsmen train the locals in craft and art. The craftsmen knew different types of crafts and trained the locals according to their choice. Some learnt Paper Mache, some learnt willow craft and some learnt Pashmina making - which remained the most popular craft during that time till now. Pashmina making was complex process which needed at least 20 artisans to make just one shawl. It started from spinners who would spin yarns out of raw wool acquired from Ladakh. Then weavers would weave the yarns into shawls, stoles or scarves. Later embroidery, dyeing, finishing, washing, ironing, packing and so many other activities associated with Pashmina making became a day to day affair for the people of Kashmir. Pashmina work gained more popularity when it got well known in Europe and middle east and people from all corners of the world started coming to Kashmir to buy atleast one Pashmina shawl. Pashmina artisans earned very well and economy got a boost. In the modern world the tables have turned completely. The same artisans who received high compensations, high respect and a masterly treatment everywhere have become irrelevant in the society. The credit for this goes to cheap foreign imports, emergence of power looms and the disinterest of young generations to opt for Pashmina weaving or embroidery. All this and more are some facts which young Amin cannot believed. Mohammed Ahmad Wani, a 37 year old artisan of Kashmir still supports his family by working on Pashmina. He is grateful for the little money he earns, but still wants the government to take some stern steps against cheap machine made. He has two kids, both go to schools but cannot afford everything they need. Sometimes their books are purchased on credit, sometimes school uniforms are used from last year or previously owned by a neighbor or relative. All Amin wants is that government promotes handmade Pashminas and hand embroidered Pashminas and takes an action against cheap, fake and impure Pashmina.
Ahmad and Pashmina.com
Ahmad wants his kids to complete education and opt for white collar jobs. He says that even though somehow he manages to survive on 150 Rupees a day, but his kids should not earn this less. "I also want them to enjoy life like other kids do. They should be able to buy their favorite clothes, mobile phones and maybe a car" says Ahmad whose elder son asks for a mobile phone, but he cant afford one. Ahmad was delighted when he heard about us. our practices of fair trade, where there is no supply chain and artisans get a fair share of what they deserve. Amin further wants us to speak against the menace caused by power looms and promote handmade as much as we can.