Samavar is traditionally used to prepare tea especially Noon-Chai(salted kashmiri tea) and Kahwaa. Samavar was introduced in Kashmir as an outcome of the Kashmiri association with the age old trade routes in the medieval times. The name Samavar is derived from the Russian word -‘Samover’and translates to ‘self-boiler’ or ‘self-brew’ in english.
The innovative remodelling and improvisation that the Russian Samover received at the hands of Kashmiri artisans has resulted in the emergence of its exotic design and form.
The Samovar is an all-time favourite domestic utensil in the entire valley of Kashmir. It is one of the finest examples of the splendid art or craftsmanship and is known for its superb quality and distinct design.
There are essentially two types of Kashmiri Samavars, the Qandhkari Samavarsand the plain Samovars. The Qandhkari Samavars are made from copper and are exclusively used by the Muslims. In contrast, the plain Samavars are crafted from brass and are used by the Kashmiri Pandits. However, the stylish handles of both the types are made from brass.In earlier times, another type of Samavar was in vogue among the Kashmiri Pandits. It was known as the PanjaebSamavar. Unlike the usual Samavars, it was uniformly globular in shape right from the crest to the base with a latticed lower part.
The Qandhkari Samavar has its entire outer surface carved with intricate floral and Chinar leaf motifs or geometric designs. Both its outer and inner surfaces are nickle plated, which is locally known as ‘Kalai’. In contrast, the plain Samavar is devoid of any design. Only its inner side is nickle plated which gives the surface a smooth finish and shine. The size of a Samavar depends upon its capacity to hold the number of tea cups. The Samavar used by the Muslims is usually bigger in size as compared to the one used by Kashmiri Pandits. It is sold by weight and its cost is related to its water holding capacity and size. The artisan who crafts the Samavar is known as ‘Thanthur’ in local parlance, whereas the designer who creates decorative carvings and patterns on its outer side is called ‘Naqash’.