Situated amid the high standing mountains, Thanthir Mohalla of village Gurweth Kalan, is situated roughly 30 kilometers away from the Budgam’s main town. While counting houses on finger tips, one reaches 20, in which, every residence has one workshop—molding, and making—copper utensils; hence named—copper village of Kashmir.
In 1980, copper work was introduced in the Gurweth village by the two local individuals—Ghulam Kadir Ahangar and Abdul Rahman—residents of the same village. It has been almost 40 years, and nothing has changed in the village.
Differentiating between these shops might be difficult, as in every workshop, sits three to four workers, side by side, to work on the different parts of a single copper utensil.
Though from raw copper to furnished product, it travels a long—heated, and beaten—journey. The copper reaches these workshops in raw form i.e in thin sheets. In order to give it a proper shape, one thin sheet at a time, is being continuously hit with a hammer in provided heat via manual air blower.
After molding the copper sheets into its shape, then the different parts are fixed and given a final touch. After this, the copper utensils are further rubbed by an iron tool to give a shine to the utensil. Then utensils are kept at a safer place so that the utensils may not get damaged. “There are a lot of objects and tools used in the work, e.g. charcoal, fixer glue, different hammers, small iron rings etc,” said Ghulam Kadir Ahangar.
There is also an increase in the demand of the copper utensils. Nisar Ahmed, the president of All Kashmir Copper Dealer’s Association, mentioned 50-60% increase in demand of copper utensils, while stating that the number of craftsmen is declining.
Talking to The Kashmir Walla about the economics of the business, Mr. Ahangar said, “One can hardly complete making a single utensil in a day, for which he gets around 300-400 Rs. There is not too much benefit in doing this work.”
Asif Hamid Sheikh is a multimedia journalist at The Kashmir Walla