Kanger-- Kashmir's warm company

. Khursheed Parray

In winter, Kashmir is draped by a blanket of snow and the bitter cold makes life difficult. To combat the chilly weather Kashmir people use of Kanger— an earthen fire pot with a wicker encasement and handles.

 

A kanger continues to be the inexpensive source of keeping warm during winters. Essentially made of two parts, an outer encasement of wicker and an earthen bowl-shaped pot called a kondul, the kanger is filled with coal and embers. A medium sized kanger holds about a pound of coal, and its fire lasts for over six hours.

 

Kashmir people also fill the kanger with toh (chaff) or (guh') lobar (dry cow dung). A kanger is a constant companion of Kashmir people during the winter months. It is normally used inside a Kashmiri closed-cloak, the pheran. Pictures: Khursheed Parray.

 

A traditional Kanger maker starts off the process by getting together the a bunch of wicker and weaving it over the earthen pot.A lot of precision and focus is required to weave in the wicker around the earthen pot before it takes the final shape. After weaving the wicker around, the artisans then erect two arms to handle the pot and colour it to give an aesthetically delicate shape.The traditional earthen fire pot is many a times used by locals while visiting friends or even when they are busy discussing the gravest problems under the sky.Kanger is filled with tchene (coal) and embers which keeps it warm for long and thus making it a necessity in every Kashmiri household during winters.Some earthen pots are also meant for decorative purposes and can cost up to rupees 1000.

Kanger generally has many variants. A well knit wicker-pot can cost between 200 to 300 rupees. Kanger is traditionally used by locals either beneath the Pheren (long overcoat) or even carried otherwise to keep the chill at bay.

For people who have outdoor duties the portable nature of kanger helps them to stay warm in bitter cold.

For fisherwomen who have to constantly work with cold water during winter a kanger is a constant companion.

A boy blows in air to ignite coal in a kanger. To hold a kanger needs great dexterity and indeed for people of Kashmir it is a child’s play.

A man walks holding a kanger in his hands. A kanger is also used to warm hands by people who don’t prefer to wear a closed-cloak.

Kanger sales are high during the months of winter. Many kanger-makers flock to markets in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar.

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