From the last 30-35 years, the Pashmina industry is suffering a serious decline as either fake or machine-made shawls have found their way into the market in large quantities and are sold in the name of pure, handmade Pashmina shawls, leaving the hardworking hand artisans abandoned and helpless. One among those who have been badly affected is Mohammed Iqbal of Saidakadal, Srinagar. Family pressure is mounting too much on Iqbal for so many years now and they want Iqbal to give up the job of Pashmina weaving, and call it an unproductive activity For generations together, Pashmina weaving has been the traditional source of income for Iqbal and his family, and of thousands of other families across Kashmir. And hence, Iqbal is in a dilemma. Should Iqbal abandon this art which his family has been doing since centuries now, and has hence remained close to his heart since childhood. Iqbal faces this dilemma everyday. His family asks him to quit the job, and start any other work which at least would be sufficient for an everyday expense maintenance. His friends have already left this work and either sell goods on roadside or are into labour. Iqbal has given his heart and soul for this craft, which still live in each warp and weft of Pashmina. He inherited this 25 years back, and has been doing so since the same time. But Iqbal feels that domestic pressure might lead him to do something he never wanted to. Iqbal's sister suffers from a disease, which he didn't prefer to mention, and has to be given high dose of some expensive medicines. But it is very difficult to buy those medicines, if neighbors and her cousins don't help financially. For a family which finds it hard to manage two square meals, cant be expected to receive the best medical care, here in the valley. It is hard for Iqbal to believe that an industry which once employed thousands of artisans for centuries together is facing a threat of extinction as sales of handmade shawls have drastically come down. "Since fake and machine made Pashmina has engulfed the markets, we are losing our livelihoods, Kashmir is losing its culture, and Pashmina is losing its centuries old reputation. Its not bringing any good to the industry", says a somewhat disturbed Iqbal who really wants the industry to flourish like before. Iqbal's sister in law was also a hand spinner, and earned Rs 4000 a month. But since the last 5 years she has hardly gotten any assignments, which has taken a toll on her financial health.
Iqbal and Pashmina.com
Iqbal sincerely hopes that handmade Pashmina rules the market again, and machines and power looms get banned. He is really impressed by how we at Pashmina.com work. We love handmade as much as we love to safeguard the heirloom crafts of the valley. Iqbal has recently joined us and is totally mesmerized by the quality of our handmade shawls. We wish Iqbal all the best for his endeavors to survive Pashmina again.