Chai Khana

RIP. Amin Kundangar, the last practitioner of a dying art in Kashmir

The star attraction at the INTACH calligraphy workshop at the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar in June 2017 was the 93-year-old master metal calligrapher, Muhammad Amin Kundangar, who spent his life working with gold. Kundangar was elated to open the week-long exhibition, remembers remembers Saleem Beg, Covenor, Indian National Trust For Art & Cultural Heritage

The last surviving patriarch of the Kundangar family, Mohamad Amin Kundangar Sahab left for his eternal abode on Thursday at a respectable age of 93 years. His departure marks the near end of an art form. Once on the high table of markets of precious objects, they survive now only in museums and as family heirlooms.

Out of the art forms practiced by our artists that gave Kashmir a unique identity and dignity, gold and silver carving has held a place of prominence. calligraphy on gold and silver were the preserve of few of them. Kundangars, those who handled kundan (gold) were a class apart. He was not just the last of the practitioner of a dying, rather dead art form. He was an embodiment of humility,a proud master and a mystic who radiated affection and righteousness in word and deed.

In June 2017 INTACH held a calligraphy workshop at Jamia Masjid Srinagar. These were challenging times in Srinagar and we were not sure how long we would survive at the most uncertain location in the old city. More than an inaugral, we wished to have blessings from some one who could impart sanctitude to this solemn effort to re-root this craft from where it might have originated. Our prayers were answered when through some divine intervention Amin Sahab reached the venue, facilitated by Mrd Kundangar, his noble son and a friend. Amin Sahab spent some time with young and old residents of down town Srinagar. These pictures how well he had mastered this art form. His pen matched the instruments in his nimble hands.

 

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