Kashmiri santoor craftsman elated by Padma Shri award, feels recognition came too late

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Santoor craftsman Ghulam Mohammad Zaz, who was conferred with the Padma Shri award on the eve of Republic Day, on Thursday expressed happiness at the recognition for his art but feels it has come a bit too late.

“I am extremely happy for getting the Padma Shri but I would have been happier if this award had come when my grandfather, my father or my uncle were alive and making these instruments.

“I am nothing before them. Whatever I learnt, I learnt from them,” 81-year-old Zaz said at his Zaina Kadal residence.

The master craftsman said he would continue making musical instruments, including the santoor, that fetched him the honour as long his life permits.

“This award has restored my faith that there are people who appreciate this kind of work. This is a dying art. Finally, someone has raised a voice for it,” he added.

Zaz said he was the eighth generation in his family to be involved in making these stringed instruments.

“I don’t know how it came to our family. Some say it was during the reign of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb while others say it was one of the crafts that came to Kashmir with Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (the 14th century poet, traveller and Islamic preacher),” he added.

Zaz also expressed his disappointment at the newer generations not showing interest in taking up the trade. But is hopeful that someone would pick up the threads and not allow it to die.

“How to save this art? Someone will come up…I don’t think it will die,” he said. (PTI)

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