Why Manzoor – A Young Stone Artrist Decided to Quit his Craft?

The Valley of Kashmir, which once prized itself for its incredible handicrafts, is facing a dearth of skilled artisans, who now opt for Corporate or Government Jobs, leaving their craft behind. One such artist is 30 year old Manzoor Ahmed, who with his creativity fashioned a new art form altogether which came to be known as The Stone Art.

Manzoor lives in a remote area of Ganderbal, in a picturesque landscape which had inspired him to make paintings 17 years ago. He is an artist, a skilled craftsman who gathers naturally colored stones from various mountainous terrains of the valley and then fashions them into ingenuous pieces of art. His paintings include portraits of world leaders, floral landscapes various genres of life.

Manzoor Ahmed has been an artist ever since he was 13 years of age. His interest in art starting developing while was still in school when he used to make amateur drawings using sketch pens. As time went by, he started sketching. These sketches started getting better day after day. He would take inspirations from the natural landscapes surrounding him and put his heart and soul into these very sketches. Gradually, he began adding life and color to his art work using water colors available in the market.

But this was not what he had envisioned. Manzoor wanted to his art to stand a class apart. He wanted to create something magical which nobody had ever seen or heard of. The thought of using waste material occurred to him. However, he soon learnt that there were many a people who were recycling wastes and using them in their art forms.

Finally Manzoor stumbled upon the idea of making paintings out of stones. This took a while because the stone art was different. It was challenging. But it was exactly as he imagined.

He collected naturally colored stones from different corners of the Kashmir Valley, tested and grinded then in a traditional Nyaem, sieved and separated them and them mounted them over a wooden board. When the paintings still looked raw, he decided to varnish them. His art form became more and more proficient over the course of time. He made portraits of eminent influencers like the poet of the east, Allama Iqbal, Che Guevera, King Salman and more.

It was Manzoor who brought this craft of Stone Art into existence. It was he who fashioned it with his creative genius. It was he who created marvels out of simple stone and pebble. It was he who put his heart and soul into the craft, ensuring that it remained natural and handmade to start to end. However, lack of recognition and the craft not selling gradually began to dishearten him. He carried on for some time with the support of his family but eventually decided to quit and move to Saudi Arabia for a job. While on the brink of shunting out his love for Stone Art, he met two young entrepreneurs, the founders of Pastel Box who realized the potential of his art and motivated him to carry on for just 6 more months, while they make efforts to sell his craftsmanship. They set up a small shop locally in Ganderbal which features Manzoor’s stone art and later elevated to the wider platform of KashmirBox.com, through which the artisan’s art could be recognized to people across the world.

Manzoor Ahmed has just 1 month left to decide whether he will move towards a job which doesn’t have his heart or carry on with the his own found love. “If these efforts bring forth any result, I will never think of leaving the craft. It is my own found love. Why would I want to quit something I hold so close to my heart. When I started making paintings in stone, I wanted to take it to a pinnacle of glory and success. Today, it grieves me to even think that my financial restraints could lead me to quit this art”, says a dejected, yet hopeful Manzoor Ahmed.

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City: Srinagar
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