Many theories are doing rounds regarding the arrival of Khatamband art in Kashmir. As per one theory, Khatamband was brought to Kashmir during 14th century by Mir Ali Hamdani, a revered saint who visited the Valley along with many followers that included Khatamband artists from Iran and taught the art to a local family in south Kashmir’s Tral town. The Geers became the sole masters of the craft in Kashmir before passing on this art to other people in the late 20th century. Khatamband is an art of making ceiling by putting together small pieces of walnut or deodar wood in geometrical patterns. The process is mostly done with hands and scarcely nails are hammered to hold the wooden ceiling which helps the work to be separated and reassembled easily at another place. Lately, some motor machines are being used to cut the pieces into batons and panels.The art has witnessed many ups and downs since its arrival in the valley. During the turbulent nineties the art took a hit, but it is once again in great demand among the customers.

In the past, due to widespread poverty across the valley, Khatamband was limited to mosques, shrines, houseboats and guest houses. Old Secretariat and Arts Emporium are two fine examples of Khatamband work in government buildings. Of late, due to the surge in income, there is a great demand for the work from middle and upper middle class homes. It keeps the room temperature warm besides lending beautiful designs to the ceiling. “Economically Kashmir is much better than what it was earlier,” says Ali. “Plus, it suits the cold weather of Kashmir, it keeps the rooms warm.”

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