Bamboo has been extensively used due to high tensile strength and being available at a relatively cheap price. Village artisans in Kathua district along the Jammu-Pathankot highway have been sustainably living off the bamboo forests in the Shiwalik Mountain ranges. Utility and decorative items have been made for the rich and poor, this includes a wide range of products like splint baskets that come in various sizes and shapes, differently styles boxes, bamboo trays bags, vegetable bowls, lamps and furniture.
Basketry in Jammu and Kashmir is well provided by the willow rushes that grow in abundance in lakes and marshes of Kashmir which are transformed into quaint utilitarian objects. Surprisingly strong, these baskets have defined the Kashmiri culture for long and are well popular with tourists from all over the world.


Basketry has been practiced by the Kashmiris since a long time and several willow and plant varieties have been use depending on the region by the locals. In 1918, Salix spp was introduced from France and England which provided another alternative to the raw material. ‘Oisers’ have been largely used as willows for basket making and there were customized tools introduced by the locals to grow the household produce to a healthy local market. Basket weavers in Jammu and Kashmir have been largely learnt the art from inheritance and it is now that modern training facilities for basketry as cottage industries have been established. However, the charm of the indigenous is still bewitching and even supports exports to foreign markets.


The art of making containers using straw grass and other natural raw material dates back to the early civilizations. The areas of Jammu and Kashmir are rich in vegetation and due to its elevation, which have not yet been intruded by industries and extensive cropping. This makes the land perfectly suitable to support the indigenous basketry art. While this has not been regarded as an important activity until now, the art has been closely linked to the lifestyle of the locals. The Kashmiris use wicker to make incredible art products ranging from shopping baskets to tokris, chhikus, tables, chairs and lampshades. The craftsmen are called kainyal or shaksaz. With ample availability of raw material, cane and bamboo craft in Jammu and Kashmir take the form of variety of basket shapes that range from cylindrical, oval, spherical and caskets. The most largely used products by the locals were meant for snake charmers to keep their snakes. Whereas, the primary basketry techniques still continue, modern influence and changing demands of the society has led artisans to come up with more innovative products. Another popular use of the art was with making the ‘Kangri’ which is actually handmade warming equipment that features an earthen vessel wrapped with bamboo net slips.

The local folk of J&K have been the conveyors of basketry since ages. In the present times, the government too is providing support to keep the art form alive and acquire international market for the products. Currently, there are several large cottage farms engaged in the bulk production of willow and bamboo baskets. They get a good market price within India and abroad. Also being one of the most popular tourist destinations of the country, it largely helps the artisans to sell their own produce and this business constitutes a considerable part of the economy.


Artisans of Jammu and Kashmir make umpteen varieties of baskets which is perhaps the oldest item of their creation. The present day artists are quite influenced by the needs of the urban markets suited to chic modern lifestyle. The handmade designs reflect the unique cultural identity of the locals and there are many tribal villages existing today, where bamboo art forms an important part of their daily lifestyle. It is through these natural tools that they choose to continue their lifestyle though in some parts it has been influenced by the modern advancements.

The Kashmiris have always been self sufficient and self employed. The early people believed in making their own household items and the habit lived on in the art form. Willow baskets have been largely used by women to carry essential items and also gather flowers and forest produces.

Basket Care

Generally, artisans apply varnish to the products to make them last longer. Unvarnished products on the other hand look more authentic but also need to be highly taken care of. To increase the lifespan, the baskets made from bamboo or willow should be frequently sprayed with water especially if you are living in a hot and dry climate. This prevents the raw material from becoming brittle and shed off. The lifetime of a basket may be at the best around 7-9 years depending on the type of use and the climatic condition it is kept in.

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