Muhammad Yousuf Murran, who has been in this profession for over four decades, is the last surviving member of Murran family to carve out intricate designs on wood.
Muhammad Yousuf Murran, who has been in this profession for over four decades, is the last surviving member of Murran family to carve out intricate designs on wood.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

In Pictures: Last Man Carving Wood Miniatures in Kashmir

"After his death, there will be no more intricate designs"
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Mr Murran working inside his workshop located at his home in the Narwara area of Srinagar.
Mr Murran working inside his workshop located at his home in the Narwara area of Srinagar.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

In his 28x4 ft workshop, Mr Murran (56) is joyfully hitting the chisel with his wooden hammer, eventually producing a masterpiece.

Mr Murran carves intricate miniatures out of wood depicting culture of Kashmir besides other special and unique designs. Mr Murran is the last man to carve out miniatures from wood using only a chisel and a hammer.

With only a chisel and a wooden hammer, Muhammad Yousuf Murran, 56 is the last man in Kashmir to carve miniatures out of wood
With only a chisel and a wooden hammer, Muhammad Yousuf Murran, 56 is the last man in Kashmir to carve miniatures out of woodMubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Notwithstanding his hearing and speaking disabilities, Mr Murran, who has been in this field for over four decades, has excelled in carving and is setting an example with his skills.

"In a world where healthy people find excuses to sit and relax, my father has proved that despite disabilities, one can do wonders only if instead of weakness, people concentrate on their strength," says Mr Murran’s 23-year-old son, Saqlain.
"In a world where healthy people find excuses to sit and relax, my father has proved that despite disabilities, one can do wonders only if instead of weakness, people concentrate on their strength," says Mr Murran’s 23-year-old son, Saqlain.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

But in a Muslim dominated area like Kashmir, carving human miniatures doesn’t come without repercussions. "Making human miniatures is unacceptable in our society and we have received some criticism for it. However, my father does it only to portray the Kashmiri culture and not for promoting anything else," says Saqlain.

In addition to the skills which he learned from his father, Mr Murran takes ideas from Discovery Channel and by taking a stroll around the city, his son says.
In addition to the skills which he learned from his father, Mr Murran takes ideas from Discovery Channel and by taking a stroll around the city, his son says.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Mr Murran, who has learned this craft from his late father, uses his photographic memory to create designs and unique art pieces. "He carves out designs that his father used to create over three decades ago. Just by using his memory," says Saqlain.

Mr Murran can’t speak, but he tries to communicate through his art, sometimes with his family and sometimes with the people of Kashmir, says Saqlain.
Mr Murran can’t speak, but he tries to communicate through his art, sometimes with his family and sometimes with the people of Kashmir, says Saqlain.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

As artists struggle financially in Kashmir, Mr Murran’s son helps in getting the clientele for his father's work by using the Internet. "I wasn't taught this art and now the only way I can help is by showcasing his [father’s] work to people, so they may recognize his skill. This is also helping us in our business," says Saqlain.

On Fridays, Mr Murran doesn't work and visits the Grand Mosque in Nowhatta area of Srinagar for congregational prayers. He memorised the mosque's architecture and made a miniature of it.
On Fridays, Mr Murran doesn't work and visits the Grand Mosque in Nowhatta area of Srinagar for congregational prayers. He memorised the mosque's architecture and made a miniature of it.GK Photo

"Traditionally, we would sell our products to traders only and receive a meagre price but after we exposed our products to the people directly, we started getting a better price for my father's hard work. We also receive custom orders now," he says.

Be it scorching heat of summers or chilling winters, Mr Murran after getting up from the bed in the morning sets straight to his workspace and jubilantly creates magic with his chisel and hammer.
Be it scorching heat of summers or chilling winters, Mr Murran after getting up from the bed in the morning sets straight to his workspace and jubilantly creates magic with his chisel and hammer.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Mr Murran’s son and nephew have been successful in establishing their own venture where they sell artworks designed by him. "After my father dies, there will be no artwork left to sell and we would be forced to only sell furniture in our showroom," laments Saqlain.

Late in the evening as Mr Murran ends his day polishing his unique designs, but he is already looking for ideas for the next day.
Late in the evening as Mr Murran ends his day polishing his unique designs, but he is already looking for ideas for the next day.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Despite hardships and disability, Saqlain says his father has taught him that no matter what your weakness is, "We can always overcome them by our will and determination to live and stand on our own feet.”

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