Srinagar gets UNESCO nod as ‘creative city’ for craft and folk arts; here’s what makes it famous

UNESCO designates the creative cities in seven fields — craft, folk art, media arts, film design, gastronomy, literature and music — and seeks applications every year from various cities across the globe

Srinagar has been recognised by UNESCO as a ‘creative city’, making it the sixth Indian city to get the distinction, after Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Varanasi and Jaipur.

What does it mean? It means that Srinagar has made it to the list of UNESCO Network of Creative Cities (UCCN). It has been designated as a ‘creative city’ of craft and folk arts. While Chennai and Varanasi are UNESCO cities of music, Jaipur is UNESCO city of crafts and folk arts. Mumbai is the UNESCO city of film and Hyderabad is of gastronomy.

UNESCO designates the creative cities in seven fields — craft, folk art, media arts, film design, gastronomy, literature and music — and seeks applications every year from various cities across the globe for putting them under the UCCN project. In India, applications are routed through the Ministry of Culture.

What does it mean for Srinagar?

As mentioned earlier, Srinagar has qualified because of its craft and folk arts, which is an intrinsic part of its tourism, besides the breathtaking beauty of the city itself. It is celebrated for its traditional Kashmiri handicrafts like shawls, and also dried fruits.

Tourists from all over the world come to this city in search of Pashmina shawls, carpets, hand-woven rugs, woolen items, embroidered jackets, Phirhan, scarves, wood carvings, etc. Traditionally, the designs are heavily influenced by Persian, Mughal and even Tibetan art forms.

The city is also famous for its papier-mâché craft, which is also quite popular in nearby districts of Kupwara, Baramulla, Budgam and Anantnag. It is said that it is the Sakhtasaz who makes the items with paper pulp, and Naqqash then does the painting and ornamentation. While the Sakhta work is traditionally done by Sunni artisans located in the Naupura locality, the Naqqashi craftsmen are Shias based in Zadibal, Kamangarpura and Hasanabad.

Srinagar also provides an amalgam of many cultures and religions.

The city also boasts of many performing arts including the traditional Bhand Pather — a type of theater where dance and play is combined in satire form. Chakri is a popular traditional music here, which involves instruments like sarangi, graha, rabab and harmonium.

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