Srinagar, Apr 11 : An elderly man from old city of Srinagar is the last craftsman who is bequeathing life into musical instruments and he was conferred with Padma Shri award recently.
Gh Mohammad Zaz an Octogenarian from Zainakadal Siraj Bagh area of Srinagar has been handcrafting stringed musical instruments for around seven decades now.
Zaz said that he was just 12 year old when he started learning to make musical instruments from Grandfather, then father and uncle who all were associated with the same craft.
“When I was 12, I got very weak due to typhoid and then one of acquaintances suggested my grandfather to associate me with the work and as it was in my blood, I learned everything very fast,” he said. “Our eight generations have been associated with this art but I am the last now to be associated with this art and have made hundreds of musical instruments.”
He is the last and the 8th generation of the family who are known for making finest santoor in the valley over the past many decades but he proudly says that he will continue to make finest Santoor as long as he is alive and with my death, this legacy will end.
“Originally Kashmiri Santoor has 100 strings, however, when it came under Indian Classical Music, it’s strings were reduced to 87 with 28 bridges,” Zaz said.
“I have been beautifying Santoor with Shikargah designs (a design of trees and birds) made on the top of it and colorful paper mache designs on every side,” he said.
Apart from Kashmiri Santoor, Zaz family was famous for making other old musical instruments like Rabab, Kashmiri Sitar, Sarangi and many other unique instruments.
He said that our great customers like Shiv Kumar Sharma and Bhajan Sopori brought newness in this art and took Santoor to international level.
According to Zaz, Santoor was earlier used for Sufi music and for hymns for what people would assemble together and the Santoor was played in the remembrance of God, however, later on, it found its way in classical music.
He said: “I have three daughters who all are well settled and there is no one who is possessing such patience to learn this art. With his death, after eight generations, there will be no one associated with this art.”
“Neither have I sought nor I got any government support and I am doing it for my own peace not for interests but I was recently conferred with Padma Shri award and award whether small or big is an honour,” he said. “It’s God’s grace and I am highly thankful to the Government for the Award. It has given me a lot of happiness. This award is for those who taught me, 7 generations before me in my family have been making these musical Instruments.”—(KNO)