The popular motifs in woodcarving are mostly based on floral themes and are traditionally associated with some other Kashmiri crafts like papier mache,shawl work etc. In addition to floral themes, semi-geometrical patterns especially in the form jalli work are also employed in products like screens. The dominant floral themes are based on chinar leaf, grape, roses, iris, lotus etc. The motifs are to be found in a host of design patterns like gul-under-gul, hazar etc. Another common motif is the dual rendering of a tree with full blossom on one side and totally devoid of vegetation on the other side. This representation marks the seasonal transition from summer to winter.
Jungle scenes are also depicted especially in deep three dimensional relief works. These scenes abound with the varied animal life of the region, including deer’s, jungle goats, snakes, beer, parrots etc.
Another widely replicated motif is that of the dragon. Patterns derived from the shawl craft are also represented in the carving. The prominent motifs that are employed in walnut wood carving are:
Gul Tarah (Flower Motif): This design uses various flowers in a stylized version. The flowers may be represented individually, as bouquet or in the form of a plant with branches. Some of the common flower motifs used are; rose, gullal, susan, sumbul, yambirzal,yusman, lotus leaf and lotus, pambach,gul-i-aftab, gul-I-cheen, gul-i-dawood, khatai, sher dhana, ashq-I-pechan, hei-ther.
Phulay Tarah (Blossom Motif): This design employs depiction of almond blossom, peach blossom, apple blossom, pear blossom, cherry blossom, saffron blossom mostly.
Kandh Posh Dhar (Flowers with Thorns): This design employs the use of rose motif along with the branvches and the thorns.
Gass-i- tarah( Grass): The motifs used are mostly of water plants and reeds.
Mavi Dahar (Fruit bearing Trees): This design mostly employs the depiction of fruits like apple, pear, walnut etc. with or without the tree.
Dach Tarah ( Grape Motif): One of the most popular motif in wood carving as well as papier mache depicting grapes along with the leaves and vine.
Badam Tarah (Almond Motif): The almond motif is rendered in this design in a stylized maner similar to that employed in shawls.
Bhoni Tarah ( Chinar Motif): This design is based on the chinar leaf pattern and is one of the most popular motifs being employed in the market.
Janavar ti Jandhar Tarah ( Animal and Animate Motif): this design depicts various birds , animals and aquatic animal species. These include bulbul, parrot, hoopoe, dove, pigeon, mina, sparrow, crow, golden oriole, duck, geese, fish, lion, deer, rabbit, horse, snake, goat etc, mainly animal and bird species found in Kashmir.
Aghdar Dhar (Snake motif): The design is based on the snake motif and iit usually employs the depiction of the reptile in pair.
Sih Dhar(Lion Motif): In this design the lion is depicted along with his pride.
Jungle Tarah (Jungle Scenes): This design is a refinement on the janvar tarah and includes the depiction of the surrounding physical landscape like the mountain, pine trees, streams etc.
Scenery Dhar (Landscape): This design is based on general landscape and seems to have developed from a stylized depiction of the famous gardens of Kashmir with flowers, trees, terraces, water channels etc.
Dal Tarah (Dal Scenes): In this design scenes from the Dal lake depicting its aquatic life are depicted.
Shikar Gah (Hunt Scenes): this is also a favorite design pattern mostly employed in Undercut wood carving depicting hunt scenes with a king mounted on elephant or horse along with his entourage.
Darbar Dhar (Court Scenes): in this design court scenes are depicted along with Persian or Kashmiri couplets.
Jang Dar (War Secenes): this design is based on battle scenes.
Shakli Dhar (Portraits): This design is basically a form of wooden sculpture portraying famous personalities.
Harfi Dhar: This design is based on carving of Arabic, Persian or Kashmiri verses.
Taveez Dhar: It is similar to Harfi Dahr design the only difference being that in this pattern Quranic verses are engraved.
Hashiyi dhar (Border Motifs): This design is basically used along the borders and is based on floral motifs one, two or three layer deep.
Chand Chotahi Dhar: This design involves the depiction of a central design motif (chand) on a plane surface with four motifs along the corner ( chutahi).
Raiz Kari: Intricate floral work is known as Raiz kari.
Pura Kar (Full Work): In this design the whole surface is covered with dense floral patterns
Weth Kaam: It is an inferior form of carving wherein the motifs are rendered in a bold maner.
Kashir Tarah: In this design Kashmiri lifestyle as prevalent in the 19th Century is depicted. This includes the depiction of traditional dress as prevalent in the 19th Century and early 20th century. The scenes depict urban as well as rural surroundings, thus this form of woodwork also acts as a pictorial representation of a life style no longer in vogue.
A trend that emerged in the walnut wood industry in the later part of the 19th Century was the introduction of carving based on the Rubiyat of Umar Khayam, Dewan of Hafiz Shirazi as well Amir Khusro and local poets like Habba Khatun .This design is usually done in the deep relief on objects like big boxes and panels and as is obvious from its name mostly employing figurative motifs.