Numdah & Gabba Indigenous Handicrafts of Kashmir

Numdah is a piece of pressed felt made either out of wool or cotton or entirely of wool. Wool and cotton or unspun wool is evenly spread over a mat and then rolled and pressed under foot for felting. The felted piece is then milled, washed and dried. Plain as well as embroidered Numdahs can be seen in the entire area of Azad Kashmir.

The Numdah Makes a warm, colorful and inexpensive floor covering and is also used as a mattress, where the climate is colder. Originally the plain Numdah rug came from Yarkand and was then embroidered in Kashmir. The Numdah sizes range from 2×3,3×4,4×6 to 6×9 feet and 3×4, 5×6 dia in round shape. The quality depends upon percentage of wool in the felt. Popularly made quality is made 32% wool, 50% wool and 100% wool. Designs are generally styled depicting flowers and leaves, animal figures, folk life and scenic views.

Gabba,  A common man’s carpet’, is made of used lois or blankets which are washed, milled and dyed in various colors. Gabba making is a household craft in which family members, especially girls and women, help the embroiders in stitching together pieces of used lois and giving them a backing of a waste cotton cloth, washing and dying is done indigenously.

There are two types of gabbas embroidered and appliqued. Bold and vivid embroidery is done mostly in woolen yarn. In some cheaper types of gabbas, a cotton yarn of dyed blankets are joined together and interspread with embroidery. Gabbas look very gay with bright flashes of designs on a dark somber background.

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