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From every hearth to oblivion, the slow fade of Waguv

Traditional Kashmiri matting battles modern flooring trends
12:01 AM Jan 15, 2024 IST | Mehroob Mushtaq
from every hearth to oblivion  the slow fade of waguv
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Srinagar, Jan 14: For almost 300 years, people have been weaving reed and rice straw together to make Waguv, a special kind of flooring.

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It provides warmth in winter and a cooling effect in summer. In Kashmir, Waguv mats were once used in every home.

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Skilled artists made these soft and bouncy mats using a special kind of grass called Typha angustifolia. This grass grows near water, like in drainage channels, ponds, and lakes. When it's about 4 to 6 feet tall, they harvest it to make Waguv mats.

These mats were popular in Kashmir, and they are part of the local tradition. Waguv mats are eco-friendly and beneficial for health. Their prices have remained stable and even decreased because people started liking thermos-cool floor covers more. First, it disappeared from the towns, and now it's quickly disappearing from rural areas in Kashmir.

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Ruksana, a woman from Srinagar, said, "Waguv weaving craft is disappearing. There used to be many Waguv weavers in Kashmir, but each year, more artisans are leaving this craft. Nowadays, only people with low incomes use Waguv because they can't afford modern, costly flooring. Undoubtedly, modern matting has taken over the traditional Waguv craft, but there are still people who continue to appreciate and cherish this incredible art."

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Recalling the times when they used Waguv, Ruksana said, “During those days, our family members didn't experience issues like backaches that are common nowadays.”

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Many elderly people believe that sleeping on a Waguv mat could ease back pain by offering natural relief, improving blood flow, and easing muscle tension.

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They believe that these grass rugs may not last long, but their rich texture and soft feel are good for feet and help with proper blood circulation.

For the revival of handicrafts, a major decision was taken in 2020 in which the Department of Handicrafts and the Department of Handlooms, which have now been merged as the Directorate of Handicraft Handloom Kashmir and the Department of Handicraft Handloom Jammu, were given a policy by the J&K administration.

Zameer Hussain Bhat of Srinagar said that Waguv, which was fading before, is now getting better with the Waguv Karkhandar Centre under the Karkhandar Scheme. “This is giving us hope and chances to contribute positively. We can earn money in a way that helps us with our families’ daily needs,” Bhat said.

He urged the government to improve the scheme so that Waguv's improvement continues successfully.

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