Papier Mache: A brief history
In the breathtaking valleys of Kashmir, a group of artisans handcrafts beautiful vases, lamp holders, and home decor objects from raw paper pulp. With its intricate detailing and exquisite colors; Papier mache is a classic art form of ancient art.
The Indian story…
In the late 14th century, when the Persian mystic Mir Syed Ali Hamdani from Persia was visiting Kashmir, he brought along skilled artisans and craftsmen. Over time, the art flourished, and Kashmiri artisans added their creativity to carve out its local shades. Today, the major contributors who sustain this rare gem of art are the Shia community from Srinagar.
Sneak peek into...
How does this art form take shape?
Papier Mache is a French term which in English means ‘chewed paper.’ The Kashmiri artists bestowed with this heirloom handicraft go through a series of painstakingly skillful efforts to carve pretty decor objects.
Sakthsazi and Naqashi: the two prominent stages of Kashmiri Paper mache completes the hand art revealing captivating pieces. The raw materials used in this process are discarded paper, cloth, straw of rice plant, copper sulfate that are mixed and made into a pulp.
The process starts with Sakthsazi, where the raw pulp is soaked in water for 3-4 days. It is then ground into uniform consistency in the stone & mortar grinder. The pulp is then left to dry naturally in the Sun & afterward mixed with atji, an eco-friendly rice glue.
The local artisans use molds of clay or wood to give shape to the pulp. Before the paper gets dried, it is taken out of the molds. Then the final shape corrections and smoothening are done.
Next comes Naqashi where the artisanal hands portray designs and motifs using colors derived from organic or vegetable bases. This meticulous detailing is so unique that no two paper mache items are the same.
The beautiful paper mache artifacts bring home the fascinating flora & fauna from the valleys of Kashmir. The other themes depicted in the artwork are the representations of King’s Darbar. From Hazarposh to Mughal styles, Kashmiri symbols like almonds and the chinar; the captivating charm of India can be seen in these creations.
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A home looks enthralling with a unique collection of handcrafted products. Choosing the dexterous pieces of decor made by our local artisans will let it stand out from the crowd of less-intricate machine-made products. From the paper mache artworks, the richly decorated colorful artifacts in the form of vases, bowls, cups, boxes, trays, and different home decor accessories add a distinct character to every home.
Challenges they are facing...
Talk about our country’s handicraft heritage, our wealth of skilled artisans, and their exemplary artwork is aplenty. The dedicated hands of our craftsmen and craftswomen give shape to the beautiful Blue Pottery, Wood carvings, and Bamboo products.
The mesmerizing wall art in the form of Madhubani paintings, Warli art, Rogan painting manifests the artisanal legacy. The Kansaris craft their eye-catching Brass Handicrafts to liven up Indian households with sculptural figurines, furniture, and furnishings. And the list goes on.
From the outside, every hand art looks beautiful. But the glimpse of an artisan’s everyday life tells a different story. Many natural and manmade factors are forcing them to look for other sustainable earning options than depending on craftsmanship alone.
For Kashmir’s paper mache handicraft, the unexpected floods and the rising militancy have taken a huge toll on artisans. The current pandemic has dried up their offshore orders too, which is their mainstay. Compared to the pre-pandemic times, their crafts had a huge demand in the European countries. Right now, they’re experiencing a lack of access to markets.
It is the scene for almost all forms of Indian artisanship. That’s why; we are looking for ways to build a sustainable community of artisans and connoisseurs alike.
Refer, an artist...
In India, we have a widespread community of local artists whose hand art has no comparison. Many artisans are putting a lot of thought and effort into making different artworks from discarded products. Sadly, their art has little or no means to sustain.
At Miradorlife we strive to provide visibility to this spectacular talent that exists within our country. We help them gain audience and ultimately convert them into customers for the talent.
We believe that handcrafted art is our heirloom that we can proudly pass down to our generations. If you know of any skilled artisans or craftswomen near you or anywhere in the country; simply click here and we will do our best to bring them forward and provide them with the best of opportunities. Together let’s make sustainability become a new normal.
Connect with us @Miradorlife today!
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