If you're walking towards MC from the Vajira Road side of Galle Road, you'd most likely have passed Kashmir Heritage — an unintrusive little glass-fronted shop packed between numerous other buildings lining the road. What you'll find is cashmere (also known as Pashmina), magic boxes, and /sings from Alladin/ a Whole New World.
The interior is a warmly lit, uncluttered space, with one half of the walls lined with shelves full of tiny handcrafted merchandise. The others are lined with quintessential Northern Indian / Kashmiri fabrics including amazing patchwork tapestries and varieties of Cashmere shawls.
The storekeeper — a Kashmiri — is friendly and talkative if you engage with him. He's more than willing to explain and give histories of the items he sells, and seems to have a sound knowledge of how they're made. What he doesn't know, he openly admits.
Walking through the shelves, he points out at intricately painted little boxes ('this is papier-mâché, this is made of walnut, very sturdy. all these are hand-painted using only natural dyes'.)
There's also what he calls 'magic' boxes — little trick boxes perfect to store cash or jewellery or anything else you value, because no one would know how to open them.
It's a crafty little thing, perfectly carved and with no visible way of opening it. I mean, you know it's an illusion and there's a trick or a secret lever there somewhere, but believe me I tried for ages and couldn't figure it out.
The Cashmere shawls start at Rs. 4000 and go upto Rs. 30,000 — ask the shopkeeper and he'll give you the breakdown of how the Cashmere wool is sheared and woven. It's a pretty tedious and time consuming process, with the Cashmere shorn off the under-neck of antelopes (one shearing session weilds about 70 grammes of wool, and it takes approx 3 months for that particular area to grow out and be shorn again), which is then used to loom or weave into shawls.
There's a ton of interesting items here, ranging from fabrics, to decals and decor, to carpets and boxes and miniature elephants and whatnot. We'd totally recommend this place, especially for the wall hangings.
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