Paper Mache Art of Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir is unquestionably one of the places in India where people visit to experience intrinsic beauty. The exquisite delight of experiencing traditional music, dance, textile weaving, and cuisine makes us visit there often. Meanwhile, they also perceive the antiquated art and culture via Indian handicrafts. Yet, when spoken of the artifact, the most astonishing form of handicraft of Jammu and Kashmir is the Paper Mache. Once we come across the unique and beautiful Paper Mache handicrafts, purchasing one of them gets irresistible. The subtle and precise designs have an impactful reflection of Kashmiri artisans, which lifts the standards of Indian handicrafts.

Read More: GI Tags for Indian Handicrafts

History and evolution of Paper Mache Handicraft

The Paper Mache handicraft embarks the existence in India since the 15th century. King Zain-Ul-Abidin of Kashmir is known to lead the spectacular art to India. Sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin, the eighth Sultan of Kashmir, brought the Paper handicraft to the Kashmir from Samarqand, a city in the southeast of Uzbekistan.

Although the significant contribution of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani of Iran, who was known to bring 700 Iran’s craftsmen to teach locals of Kashmir making other forms of arts including Carpet making and Paper Mache crafts. The universal handicraft of Kashmir has been shouldering the tradition forward with authenticity. The style and patterns in Kashmiri art embark the presence of Islamic history and culture in them.

The Naqqashi, meaning the art, has the elaborating involvement of Naqqash, the artist for centuries now. The indigenous handicraft known for its precision and perfection is an aesthetic delight for art enthusiasts. The generations of Kashmiri artists, as a part of Indian handicraft give their best and genuine efforts to make the art creatively with minute details.

How Paper Mache Handicrafts are made?

The word Paper Mache comes from French origin, meaning chewed paper. The main components involved in making Paper Mache art are paper, glue, starch and wallpaper paste. Each element has a distinct purpose in the process of preparing Paper Mache handicrafts as well as how they end up appearing. The mixture of paper pieces or pulp is sometimes strengthened with textiles. The adequate usage of adhesives such as glue, starch or wallpaper paste helps the fixtures give strength and texture. In Kashmir, the artisans use the traditional method from heritage to create Paper Mache handicrafts.

The procedure of making Paper Mache crafts starts with soaking paper pulp in boiling water. The glue is further added to the grind paper pulp. The traditional glue is used in the process, which is a mixture of water and natural starches mixed to the consistency of heavy cream. To provide the easy and smooth mould the oil is added. The process of making Paper handicrafts consumes time as well as labor. The Paper handicrafts are given the required shape through cutting and scrapping with minute details. Further the mould designed is rubbed and give smooth texture followed by applying the layer of clay. The most crucial part of Naqqashi requires creativity when the item is painted and given designs. The artist designs by painting on free hand. The subtle and precise designs give the items the quality of dimension and exceptional art.

What is special about Paper Mache art? 

Paper Mache art is famous and unique only because of the creative artists and laborers. They put hours of hard work from beginning to end. The use of recycled waste papers appends the ideology of the exquisite handicraft. No wonder why it is easy to be fascinated by ethnic art. 

The creative handicrafts not only improvise the home decor but also make the best use of papers.  The making of Paper Mache crafts is rigorous and time taking. The families in Kashmir taking forward the heritage art business. There are numerous things made out of Paper Mache handicraft. The unlimited designs of fixtures, vase, statues, boxes, jewelry, wall pieces, containers, and wall hangings, Paper Mache art, is undoubtedly phenomenal being the part of Indian handicrafts. There are varieties in designs and colors, which help us, choose from plenty of options according to our preferences. The outlandish designs of flowers, leaves, animals, and historical elements have a genuine reflection of Islamic culture and history. 

The presence of a Paper Mache artifact in the house blends with various types of interior designs. Be it Nautical, Midcentury, Scandinavian, Farmhouse, or Bohemian. The Paper Mache crafts raise the standards of the artifact collections, and thus it is never a good time to explore this handicraft.

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