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38-yr-old man of Kawdara Sgr wishes to keep copper engraving alive

'Says award recognized my work'

Post by on Monday, July 25, 2022

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Srinagar, July 24: Mushtaq Ahmad, 38, from the Kawdara area of Srinagar district, is involved with copper engraving and wishes to keep this centuries-old art alive through his strenuous efforts, for which he has received state awards in the past.
 
Speaking to Rising Kashmir, he said that before 20 years, he started copper engraving when his father was doing this. He said that before achieving this feat of state award, he was rejected many times. But two years ago, he again submitted the documents for the state award, and this time he was lucky.
He was awarded by the Director of Handicraft and Tourism. He terms this award as a major achievement for him. He continued that this award has recognized his work at a national level.
 
According to Ahmad, he had a small shop where he had been doing copper engraving for the last two decades and was making a good living.
 
Before the department confirmed my award, they (the department) regularly conducted surprise visits to my shop to check whether the item was made on our own or had been arranged. The department's officials regularly inspected it till 90% of the work was completed on the said piece.
 
We always try to make some unique (Anmol) things so that all of the things we build, such as Kashmiri Samawar, wall plates, glass, and other copper stuff, can get a wide attraction.
 
On being asked if new generations of people are following this business suit, he said some people are still choosing this as a profession to earn their livelihood. I too have urged the department to provide someplace where I can train people who want to enter this field.
 
He said that the department agreed but told me to manage the space on my own, which wasn't possible from my side.
 
If authorities want to keep this art alive, they must provide assistance to those who have experience in this field so that they can provide training to other people.
 
I desire to train people who love this art, but unfortunately, I have crunch space at my unit, so I can't provide training to anyone. "
 
"I urge the department to keep some space so that I can train the people so that they will keep this art alive for a long time."
 
When asked how he started with copper engraving, he explained that engraving is an intaglio printmaking technique in which lines are cut into a metal plate to contain the ink.
 
To ensure that just the intended lines are printed, the copper plate is first cleaned to remove all scratches and defects.
 
When making an engraving, the printmaker uses a burin, a sharp instrument with a steel shaft, and a beveled diamond-shaped point fitted into a rounded wooden handle, to incise or cut a composition directly into the surface of a metal plate.
 
"At present, modern machinery has replaced every art, but I must say I am thankful that till now machines aren't engraving copper the way men can do it manually."
 
The 38-year-old copper engraver told Rising Kashmir that this isn't easy work and because of the way we are hard-working, we aren't getting paid in the same way. Thanking Almighty Allah, he said, "I am still earning 500-600 per day."
 
This art was the identity of Kashmir. Machines should not be used to end the rich heritage of the Kashmir valley.
 

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