Namdas are one of the products produced in the handicraft section of Jammu and Kashmir. This is the craft of making carpets, which is done by felting. This craft has come all along from the land of Iran with Sufi Saint. The exact time when it reached Kashmir is not known, but it is imagined to be around some 600 to 700 years back. This when reached Kashmir gave great working opportunity to the people of Kashmir. The craftsmen who were involved in other handicrafts got themselves in this handicraft.

This art is known to be from the land of Yarkland, which is famous for felting the wool. The carpets are made from felting and not weaving. Generally, Namdas is not totally wool. A small quantity of cotton is mixed with wool to prepare these carpets.

There are two varieties of Namdas available. Plain and embroidery are the two varieties one can find in Namdas. During the early days, these products were manufactured with the help of woolen yarns. Today, acrylic yarns are used for manufacturing Namdas. They are then embroidered with colorful threads to make it look colorful and beautiful.

History of Namdas

The history of Namdas carpets can be traced back to some 600 to 700 years back. This was even before English entered India and before the world famous Taj Mahal was built. This came along with the Sufi Saints. They practically came into India from Iran to spread Islamism and they developed this art of Namdas carpets along with Islamism.

The whole idea was to develop a working culture between people and today this is one among the many preferred handicraft products.

Traditional Process of Manufacturing Namdas

The traditional process makes use of hand operated woolen tool, which is known as dhooin in the local language. The tool can be explained as a bow string and a stub, which is arranged in such a way to allow the fibers to fall into a thin flake when the stub is struck against the sting of wool that is mostly sheared wool. For carding, a woolen system is made to suspend from the ceiling on a curved bamboo section.

The patterns found in Namdas are geometric patterns. The marks of the patterns are made with jute base and a charcoal. Then, the woolen flakes are spread on the jute base evenly. To attain an even density, the person who makes the Namdas uses carded wool and a stick and creates the required density.The stick is mainly used to push the carded wool to the line marked the base mat.

Namdas is not a single layer carpet. It is a 3 layer carpet and can be also known as sandwich of more than 3 layers. They are just on top on one another. The basic method used while layering is the design is made first. It means the topmost layer where the design will be visible will be prepared first with the help of the base jute mat. Then, the carded wool is spread on the design.

After every layer of wool, water is sprinkled on the wool and the entire wool is pressed with a tool, which is known as pinjra or woven willow wicker. The proportion of water is equal to the weight of the carpet. If it is a carpet of 3 kg, then totally 3 liters of water even slightly less than 3 liters is used while preparing the carpet. Warm water is used during the winter seasons and normal water during other seasons. The last layer after being laid is beaten until the carpet is completely even. Occasionally, while beating water is sprinkled on the last layer.

Squeezing Out the Excess Water

For squeezing out the excess water from the carpet, the prepared carpet along with the jute base mat is tightly rolled. The entire rolling process is carried on for about 3 hours and this depends on the wool that is used for the carpets. Mostly, the cotton ratio is 70:30 in the carpet. If the cotton ratio is more than 30, then the time taken to squeeze the water out too is more.

Designing the Carpet

For binding the edges of the carpet, the rolled carpet is unrolled and soap with caustic content is poured on them. This is again rolled, but this time without the jute mat. This is when the carpet is known as kachcha namda.

For removing the soil and other dirt on the carpet, a dry wash is given to the carpet, which takes about some 2 hours. Then, hand embroidery using threads that are dyed naturally are used in the carpet. For the embroidery the needle used is known as aari needle.

Places Where These are Made Now

Kargil, Srinagar isa few places where these carpets are still carried out traditionally. A government mill has been established in Srinagar some 50 years back to help with the manufacturing of this carpet. This is an excellent piece, which combines the effort of both men and women.

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