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Ladakh Art and Handicrafts

Art and Handicrafts, Ladakh

There is a wide variety of handicrafts available in Ladakh, ranging from pashmina shawls to Tibetan styled rugs and silver jewellery, to tangkhas, emphasizing the importance of Ladakh as an important centre of trade on the great silk route.

There is not a great deal of handicraft unique to Ladakh except for the metal workers of Chiling. Chiling is about 19 kms up the Zanskar river from Nimo, home to a community of artisans that work on silver, brass and copper, and produce items for domestic and religious use such as tea and chang pots, tea-cup stands and lids, hookah bases, ladles and bowls, and silver chortens for installation in temples and domestic shrines.

Craftsmanship in general has not moved out of the realm of personal and domestic uses. Patttu, a rough woolen material used for clothing is made from locally produced wool spun by women on drop spindles, and woven by women on portable looms.

Baskets woven out of willow twigs or a kind of grass are used for carrying load. Woodwork is confined to the production of low carved tables, pillars and carved lintels for the house.

The District Handicrafts Centre at Leh, besides training locals in developing skills and marketing their products, has a collection of local handicrafts. Besides the local traditional handicrafts, other items such as pashmina shawls, though not as fine as the ones in Srinagar, and carpets in Tibetan style and technique can be found. There is a separate department for tangkhas.

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