Karakuli cap retains its charm in Kashmir

January 24th, 2009 - 3:10 pm ICT by ANI  

Karakuli cap retains its charm in Kashmir
By Pervez Butt
Srinagar, Jan 24 (ANI): The famous ”Karakuli” caps made from tender sheepskin still finds favour with people of Kashmir, amid protests by animal lovers.
Karakul is the name of a sheep bred in Central Asia, which is known for its soft and curly pelt.
Karakuli is worn mostly in NWFP in Pakistan. Kashmiris too used to extensively wear Karakuli in the early seventies. However, with the passage of time and the eruption of Afghanistan war with the then Soviet Union, Karakuli caps vanished from the market as its cost got increased. It became difficult for the middle class people to afford it but the upper class and the politicians wear it on special occasions.
“Karakuli has been in use in Kashmir since times immemorial. It has its own identity. Though I”ve never worn a Karakuli myself, but I”ve seen my elders wear it. According to them, a Karakuli defines a person’’s status in society. All the important people in Kashmir wear a Karakuli and it signifies their importance and status,” said Nazir, a resident.
Kashmiri grooms, too, wear the headgear when they set out to meet their in-laws on their wedding day.
But little do these people know that or try to ignore the brutal way by which the Karakuli cap is manufactured. The best quality pelt with short and tight curls for making Karakuli cap is got from the skin of an unborn Karakul lamb that along with mother is killed in the womb for getting the raw material. In this way countless baby sheep and their mothers are brutally killed.
Despite protests by animal rights activists expensive Karakuli caps each costing upto 9,000 rupees are available in the local markets along with the ordinary sort with superficial resemblance to the original that cost around 500 rupees.
“Earlier these Karakulis used to cost anywhere from rupees 100 to 150 but now their prices have increased and have gone up as high as rupees 7,000 to 9,000,” said Gulam Nabi, Cap Maker.
These caps have been popularised quite a lot by Kashmir’’s leading political family. State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah wore the Karakuli on his first day in office early this month. His father Farooq and grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had taken oath of office wearing the cap. (ANI)

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