Kashmir’s Famed Copperware Losing Ground To Machines

With machines chipping in, the Kashmir’s famed copperware is slowly losing its ground to technology making thousands of artisans jobless. 
The manufacture of copperwares in Kashmir was once a famed vocation giving livelihood to thousands of artisans, serving a source of income for hundreds of coppersmiths.
During the last decade or so, however, this sector has badly been affected by introduction of machine.
“Our trade has become victim of machines. At my workplace I used to have 30 workers manufacturing and designing the copper items throughout the year,” Muhammad Ayoub Misger, a coppersmith who is now alone working at his workplace at Zaina Kadal here, says.
Misger says copper utensils manufactured in Kashmir were popular even outside the state for their intricate handmade designs.
“Artisans would work dawn to dusk making copper utensils, designing and polishing them. Besides locals, a lot of tourists would come to us to purchase these utensils,” he says.
“But now the machines have taken lead. The handmade designs have become rare,” he laments.
Muhammad Ashraf Ahangar, a coppersmith, has been forced out of this profession after machines chipped in.
“I was 10-year-old when I started work at a copper workplace. But when the machines were used for designing and manufacturing, there remained no work for artisans like me forcing us to leave our profession which was very dear to us,” he said.
Ahangar is now working as a construction labour.
Zarief Ahmad Zarief, poet and social activist says the intrusion of machines has ruined the copper business. “Machines took away the glory of this trade. Artisans lost jobs. Copper lost its fame,” Zarief laments.
Pertinently, Kashmiri artisans were known for producing excellent products of copperware consisting mostly of cooking pots and samovars and sundry articles for the household or the mantelpiece.
Pertinently, under J&K Prohibition and Manufacturing of Specified Copper Utensils by Machine Act 2006 manufacture of cooper utensils by machines is prohibited.
Mehraj ud Din Kenu, Director, Industries and Commerce says: “We have come across reports that some unscrupulous traders are dealing in cooper utensils that are made by machines. This is totally prohibited under JK Prohibition and manufacturing of specified copper utensils by machine Act 2006.”
“It has deprived genuine copper workers of their livelihood,” he says.
“We will take strict action against traders dealing in machine-made copper items,” he says.
Kenu says that anybody found dealing in sale of copper items manufactured by machines will be penalized. “The violation of the Act can earn them imprisonment of one year and fine or both.”

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