The earthen fire-pot that keeps Kashmir warm

Mohit Sapru Posted On : / Updated On : February 26, 2023
4 min 798 words

Categories: Kashmir

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The KANGRI remains an enduring emblem of Kashmiri culture and local craftmanship that is eco-friendly, cost effective and keeps people warm during the severe winter months when temperatures reach extreme lows.

Kangri Kangri Kangri

It is a clay fire pot that is filled with glowing charcoal embers encased in pretty handmade wicker baskets and carried as a personal warmer. It is an effective and economical local heating arrangement thats been in the culture for generations. Besides it importance as a utility tool it also has a cultural and religous significance.

The making of the Kangri first involves a potter making a clay pot, called 'Kandul’ on the traditional potters wheel. Thereafter it is kiln-dried and sent to the wicker artisan who makes the wicker encasing over the Kandul. First the wicker base, called 'Czhok' is made which holds the Kandul. From this base, pillar like thick wicker are woven vertically upwards reffered to as 'Puheir'. These may vary in number from 10 to 24 and thus the Kangri may be reffered to as a '10 Puheir (Deh-Puheir)' or a '12 Puheir (Bah-Puhier)' or '14 Puheir (Czodha-Puhier)' or 24 Puheir (Czowuh-Puhier). The interweaving wickerwork from the base towards the top is the body of the Kangri and is called 'Dhad'. Artisans may even use different coloured wicker for the Dhad.

The upper part of the Kangri above the mouth of the Kandul and towards the designated rearside of the Kangri is called the ‘Koup’. Rest of the wicker is either cut or bent down towards the inner side in between the Kondal and the wicker encasement. The Koup, which also includes the two handles on the sides for gripping the Kangri, alongwith all the vertical twings ends up as a knot reffered to as the "Gund' at the top. Just below the Gund on the rear side is a wicker ring ('Kourr') to hang the ‘Czalan’, a spindle/stirrer usually made of wood (sometimes of metal) tied by a string.

The basic structure of the Kangri remains the same everywhere in Kashmir, however small variations are seen based on the location of its production such as those mentioned below
Bandpur Kangir
Tchrar Kangir
Trale Kangir
Herpur Kangir
Zaingir Kangir
Kangri's made in Bandipora and Chrar are considered most special of all because of the special type of weaving which make it a work of art while those made in Zaingir are considered the most durable.

Below are variations of kangri's based on it's ornamentation
Dooredar Kangir
Pachhdar Kangir
Zaeildar Kangir
Cheshedar Kangir
Mahrin Kangir
Wudd/Isband Kangir
Shishar Kangir
Tapan Kangir
Dali Kangir
Roinni Kangir

Based on the type wicker used, the variety of Kangri's are
Posh Kangir
Linn Kangir
Kzetch Kangir
Vir Kangir
Mannen (without wicker encasement)

Durability of a Kangir not only depends on it's size and the art of weaving but also upon the quality of wicker. A kangri made with softer wicker does not last long. The Kangri may be lighter but the wicker of these dry out fast and then burn dark. Kangri's made with the 'Posh' variety of wicker are thicker than others and makes weaving them difficult. A Kangri made of ‘Linya’ variety of wicker is considered the best.

Wicker stickes, used in making kangri's, being collected ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

Wicker stickes being unloaded and stocked ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

Wicker stickes being boiled to soften them ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

Women peel the skin off the wicker sticks ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

Wicker sticks being dried in the open ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

A potter makes the clay pot ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

The clay pot is shaped ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

The clay pots being dried ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

An artisan forms a wicker basket over the clay pot ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

Kashmiri boatmen keep themselves warn in the cold ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

Kashmiri men keep themselves warm with Kangri during a snowfall with the Kangri under their long cloaks ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

A local shopkeeper warms himself with Kangri ©️Abid Bhat/Al Jazeera

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