The Art of Dyeing
‘Every dyer literally craves for work in the Valley’
SRINAGAR: Time was when the art of colouring objects in the Valley brightened everything, whether the products or the lives of dyers and onlookers, but the art is dying a slow death and the colours are fading away.
Abdul Majeed Mattoo, a resident of Bohri Kadal has been in the profession for 35 years, but he says the art has faded drastically from the time, not very long ago, that it would earn them a healthy amount.
“Earlier the art served each one of us and we used to earn well, but since the inception of GST (the Goods and Services Tax) the art has witnessed a decline.”
According to him, such is the decline in their art that every dyer literally craves for work in the Valley.
Mattoo says that 20 years ago they would receive orders in bulk from foreign countries, which amounted to healthy earnings for these artists, but now such orders are confined to just 10-15% of the total.
Other things have also led to the steep decline. Mattoo explained that dyers require wood and gas for their work, whose prices have gone sky high, pushing up costs.
“There is no way the newer generation will adopt this art because nothing is left in it seriously. Earning the meagre amount of Rs.200 a day is insufficient in modern times.”
He urges the government to bring various schemes into force to draw people to this profession and art.
Bashir Ahmad Rangrez, another dyer who has spent 40 years in the profession, blamed the price hike in essentials like wood, kerosene, gas for the downfall of dyeing in the Valley.
“I have two kids, one of them is a doctor by profession and the other is an engineer. I firmly believe that the art of dyeing will definitely fade away in my family once I depart from here.”
Despite expressing his disappointment over the current state of affairs, Rangrez explains how they used to work and other technicalities in his art.
“Earlier there used to be sebai colour, nowadays we use Amrit LAL, and also an acid is needed. My grandfather used vegetable dye in his day.”
He adds that dyeing in the valley dates back 120 years, but the day is near when this art disappears.
“Earlier 60 employees would work in tandem but now we aren’t able to feed ourselves so there is no chance of hiring anyone, such has been the effect.”
Rangrez also blames the GST for the decline in earnings, saying that it pushed them back to a great deal.
Amin Allakbandh, who has been running his shop for 22 years, believes the difference between the modern and contemporary era is huge, and the art of dyeing has witnessed it.
For Allakbandh the new generation is not ready to accept the profession because they are well aware of the consequences.
“Demonetisation played a huge role in the decline of the dyeing art, everything was smooth till then.”