Paper Mache was invented in China in about 105 A.D . Papier Mache is a French word meaning ‘Mashed paper’. It is a delicate decorative art which shows the artistic zeal of craftsmen in Kashmir. This tradition in Kashmir has its origin rooted in the 15th century when King Zain-ul-Abidin invited accomplished artists from Central Asia. The art was highly favored by Mughal Emperors of 15th and 16th Century. About that time the art of handmade paper received a revolutionary fillip and provided a new material for the craftsmen. Before that, wood workers and painters made colorful patterns mainly on wood, in making ceiling panels, doors, bedsteads, palanquins etc.
|Papier Mache Wall Clocks|
The art was originally known in Kashmir as Kar-i-qalamdan, being confined to ornamentation of cases then used for keeping pens and other small personal articles. The art was also known as Kar-i-munaqqash since it was used for ornamenting smooth surfaces made of paper pulp or layers of polished paper.
and the naqashi (painting the surface).There is a class of people called sakhta makers.
- Waste paper, cloth, rice straw and copper sulphate; all these are taken together and ground into pulp. After the pulp is ready, wooden or brass moulds are used to give it the required shape. Several layers of pulp are laid one over the other till the required thickness has been obtained and the object has taken a shape.When the pulp dries, it is rubbed with and smoothed with the help of a stone with an even surface. It is removed from the mould with a small saw.
- The article then has to be rejoined; this is done with the help of thick glue. When the joint is made secure, the object is rubbed gently with a wooden file called ‘kathwa’. The surface is once again made even and angularities are smoothened. Then a paste of glue and chalk is applied from inside and outside with the help of a brush.
- When the glue and chalk coat dries, the craftsman once again rubs the surface. For this purpose, an even piece of baked brick called ‘kurket’ is used. Now small pieces of paper are pasted over it with the help of glue. The purpose is to make the surface secure against cracks to which the glue and chalk coat has been applied.
- In the case of items made of wood instead of paper pulp the required wooden shapes are secured through the carpenters working on light wood, ‘kayra’ being the common type. The article is then smoothened and rubbed again to receive the ground (zamin) color. This color may be gold, white, black, red, blue etc.
|Papier Mache Miniature Chest of Drawers|
- White – white lead came from Russia,
- Body white – was prepared from a local stone called ‘shallaneen’.
- Ultramarine Blue – was prepared from ‘Virdigris’ (green) and ‘lapis lazuli’
- Browns – were prepared from a clay which was imported from Armenia,
- Yellows – were prepared from a flower ‘guli ksu’ and a wild plant ‘weftangil’.
- Violet and Blue – were extracted using the indigo leaf and weed.
- Reds – were derived from cochineal, log wood and local forest wood named ‘lin’. Red
was sometime obtained from saffron.
- Light Brown- Green and dried walnut skins yielded light browns, and
- Black – was produced from lamp blacks as well as from walnuts. For large and plain
groundwork, black was produced from half-burnt cowdung.
hunting and battle scenes, court scenes influenced by miniature paintings. Papier mache products reflect a very subtle grammar of motif and style. Popular patterns or design motifs are the traditional ‘hazara’ or ‘thousand flowers’ (the pattern attempts to display every conceivable flower) and ‘gulandergul’ or ‘flower within flower’. The chinar leaf, the iris, the Persian rose, the almond and cherry blossom, the tulip, narcissus and hyacinth are also popular motifs. Border patterns such as gondur and tyond are generally geometric abstracts. Among other rich designs are ‘Arabesque’, done in gold against a brown or red ground to show sprays of rose blossoms in fine lines and ‘Yarkand’, an elaborate
design built up in spirals with gold rosettes radiating from various centers and white flowers laid over gold scroll work.
|Papier Mache on Steel Glasses|
bowls, trays, boxes of various shapes and sizes, bangles, mirror holders and
frames, caskets, lamp vases, screens and items of furniture are made for their
functional appeal and decorative charm. There is much more scope for pleasing
functional items, such as bedstead legs, candle stands, trinket boxes, and fine
packaging for expensive items. In Ladakh, masks are made out of paper pulp
(mixed with clay, cotton, flour and glue) and painted in bright colours.
Handicraft workers make statues also for the monasteries in this technique. The
style of Papier Mache painting has also been applied on cookie boxes, steel
trays and glasses and similar items of daily use.
The ingenious Papier Mache artisans of Kashmir transform a variety of utility articles into rare art pieces. These skills are passed down from generation to generation, son taking the place of his father and father taking place of his father this art
has been handed down from family to family. Kashmiri craftsman have tried to maintain the culture of Papier Mache and to this day it is still being made by hand in these small home shops where families gather together and work on it and bring these beautiful creations to the
Kashmiri or Papier Mache Painted Products such as Kashmiri Painting on Steel Containers, Kashmiri Painted Wooden or Steel trays, Kashmiri Painted Wood or Kashmiri Painted Cookie Boxes etc. are available on www.shop.theindiacrafthouse.com on the below links:
- Kashmiri Painted Containers
- Kashmiri Painted Trays
- Kashmiri Painted Cookie Boxes
- Kashmiri Painted Flower Vase
- Kashmiri Painted Art on Wood
Video on Kashmiri Papier Mache Painting Art: