The Last Craftsman: Young artist aims to revive lost art of clay tiles

Zoya Khan, a Kashmiri architect holds exhibition on the art of clay tiles
The Last Craftsman: Young artist aims to revive lost art of clay tiles
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Srinagar, Nov 17: Aiming to shed light on one of the last surviving clay tile (Khaniyari Tiles) artists and the vanishing art, Zoya Khan, a young architect held a photo exhibition on the dying art of clay tiles in Srinagar.

Ms Khan said her aim was to shed light on what she believes to be the last surviving artist of clay tiles in Kashmir. 

She also wanted to bring the attention of Kashmir and other parts of the world towards this amazing Kashmiri art form, said Ms Khan.

She said that her journey started few years back when she needed glazed clay tiles for a project. “To my surprise, I realized that the art is at the brim of vanishing from Kashmir. This put me in touch with elderly Ghulam Muhammad from Khaniyar who is last surviving craftsman of this art. That is where the journey started,” added Ms Khan.

She said that over the period of last two years she captured the journey of this craftsman and also tried to understand and learn the art.

“I did an advanced course in this art from Delhi. It helped me to understand the art more closely. Such unique art form needs support from the government so that these artists can survive and thrive. In earlier times these tiles used to be part of every house but now new materials have replaced them. It is my way of honoring the art and artist. Through this whole exhibition I not only want to honor the artist by I want people to understand their culture and do their bit to preserve it. With right steps we can revive this art form and add this back to our life,” she said.

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The exhibition was supported by Kashmir Department of Handicrafts and Handloom. While attending the exhibition, Director Handicrafts and Handloom, Mehmood Shah said such exhibitions are vital for revival of such art and craft.

“This is a tribute to this amazing artist. We at the departmental level are trying our best for the revival of lost art forms. Our schemes are aimed to encourage such art forms and do everything for its revival. Glazed pottery is an art form that is not only amazing but has a huge scope to reach back to our houses, hotels and offices. We are trying to encourage such art forms,” said Mr Shah.

Umar Kumar, a glaze potter who attended the exhibition said this was his first experience of such an exhibition. He said more and more youngsters should learn this art.

“Be it tile making or other forms of glaze pottery, we should involve youngsters in it. I have worked hard to learn the glaze pottery and I hope that more youngsters will join me,” said Mr Kumar.

The exhibition was attended by government officials, academicians, students and people from other walks of life. The organizer and other people present at the function said that such exhibitions are vital to know “our culture and find ways to contribute towards it.”

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