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Carving Wood to Glory 

ISP Delhi Bureau 

Ghulam Nabi Dar can be undoubtedly called the man who has brought international recognition to wood carving from India. Representing the rich folk traditions and cultural heritage, Dar is the one who is bringing glory to beautiful carvings of Kashmir worldwide. 

Despite difficult circumstances, Srinagar based artisan Ghulam Nabi Dar has taken up the responsibility of keeping this art, culture and skill alive. This 70-year-old craftsman is now finding patrons from across the world for his carefully carved artworks made out of walnut wood. It’s a 15th century art exclusive to Jammu and Kashmir. It was a dying tradition now being revived by few craftsmen. But Dar’s journey to fame has been a very difficult one.

As a teenager, he took up wood carving to find poverty and win bread for the family. His father asked him to join a wood workshop when he was only in class 5th. Simple woodwork did not interest the young child. He skipped his job to join workshops where artwork was done. Dar and his brother had to leave school due to financial hardships. 

Dar did not give up after his initial hardships. He started spending time focussing on natural beauties around and to replicate that on wood everyday. Most of his time was spent watching blooming flowers in the garden and often people would feel that he has gone crazy and mad. But, the flowers and petals became the signature design of Dar in his work in later years. 

The senior artists in the valley were not ready to teach the art to any new-comer those days. It was a difficult task to acquire the precision and skills of working delicately with walnut wood. The walnut wood, locally known as Doon Kul, is considered best for carving because it is more durable and has a fine texture especially the root and stem parts of the tree.

Made with the master touch of Dar, the Motifs of deep carved flowers, roses, birds, animals and humans on the polished walnut wood are a delight to watch for everyone. Today, a lot of prominent houses in Srinagar and their doors are the work of Dar’s beautiful imagination on wood. Ghulam Nabi Dar’s fame  reached countries like Thailand, Germany and Iraq through his commissioned work for governments and exclusive installations and buildings. Apart from furniture and house accessories, hand made jewelleries of walnut wood are also famous worldwide made by Dar. 

With his work of art and exclusivity Ghulam Nabi could not just keep alive the heritage of Jammu and Kashmir but could also be brand ambassador of India in global platforms. 

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