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Copper And Silverware

Copper and silverware form the major mementoes from Jammu and Kashmir. The high quality products are mainly the artwork of skilled and indigenous craftsmen and comprise of samovars (tea kettle), pots, mantel pieces, statutes, embossed motifs and much more. The art of brassware casting has been flourishing in Kashmir since ages now. The Kashmiri brassware is particularly famous all over the world for their excellent make and quality. They range from decorative, ceremonial to regular household items. The most popular however is the Samovar, the tea kettle of Russian origin.

There is a large variety of silverware available in Kashmiri markets and includes flower vases, tea sets, ornamental picture frames, toilet seats, tumblers and cigarette cases. The main motifs in these designs comprise of the leaves of lotus and Chinnar as well as lilac which is a popular flower from these valleys. The price for an item would vary accordingly to the naqash (design) and obviously the weight of the item. One would come across both plain and highly intricate works catering to tastes of buyers from different parts of the world.


The origin of copper and silverware works of Jammu and Kashmir is from the Fateh Kandal area of the valley and the first known products were domestic items like cooking pots, containers, hukka bases, ornamented glasses, long handled ladled, water jugs, aftabas and samovars. The artisans have been known for their skills long before the Muslims invaded the country and were generally Buddhist blacksmiths. Silver engraving is a major part of the design work here is used in tea kettle, copper ladles, brass and copper prayer wheels, tea bowl lids and similar items. Silversmiths or sergars were also an important part of this community.

In Ladakh region, the Gara blacksmith communities have made elaborate designs in iron stoves, keys, conch bangles and locks and the bass reliefs contain designs featuring dragons, floral strips, druk khabrel and tanka and are similar to the ones that are found in old Chinese coins. These craftsmen also moved from house to house repairing metal items with their tools.

The most unique and appealing of traditional metal crafting by Jammu and Kashmir community are the casting in large vessels that were used for cooking during weddings and similar festive occasions. In an average Kashmiri household, copper is the main metal used in items such as lotas, tram and samovar. The production of silver items on the other hand involves preparation, cleaning, engraving, gilding by a workforce containing artisans with varied skill sets. The smith is called the khar, the engraver is called naqash, the gilder is called the zarcob, the polisher is the roshangar and the cleaner is the charakgar.


Kashmiri craftsmen have maintained the skill sets of their ancestors and the quality of their work through ages. The main production centers for these products are in Jammu and Srinagar. Ornamental picture frames are in special demand by foreigners and are exported in large amounts to USA, Australia and European countries. The old city abounds in shops with a varied line of copper objects and artifacts and roadside craftsmen can often been seen busy engraving on metal. The manufacture of copper items provides income to thousands of local artisans in Jammu and Kashmir. However, during the last decade, this trade has been quite affected by modernization and replacing casting techniques by machines. While each of the indigenous items is unique in its design (each being manually done), modern designs don’t really live up to the expectations of the consumer market. Handmade designs are more intricate and define the creativity of the artisans. To encourage the local industry, Prohibition and Manufacturing of Specified Copper Utensils by Machine Act 2006 was established by the J&K government.

The indigenous craftsmen had been there before the arrival of the Harappan civilization and one can rightly guess how deep rooted the culture is. At first, it started in a small village called Lothal next to the River and gradually spread all across Jammu. The workshops of the coppersmiths come with more than eight furnaces and paved sinks for a large workforce to contribute. Ingots are imported from all across the Indus Valley and workers mix it with copper for manufacturing the items. Some workshops even follow the cire perdue metallurgy techniques. Another basic item that these workshops manufacture is double spiral copper rings that form an important part of jewelry for a Hindu bride.

Metal Care

Intricate items of copper and silver need little care and regular dusting and cleaning will be enough. Cleaning with soluble chemicals is not recommended as it will hamper the shine of the metal and the intricate lines may subsequently break out. Washing with plain water once in a while is all that’s needed.

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