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A Beautyful craft from a Beautiful land

paper, craft, papier machie

A Beautiful craft from a Beautiful land

Once strolling around the craft market at Delhi, I discovered some beautiful craft items from Kashmir. They were very beautiful and also verymuch affordable in price. I came to know the craft is known as Papier Machie.When you talk about the crafts of Kashmir, the backbone of states economy, Papier Machie can not be left out. Papier Machie is one of the most famous crafts of Kashmir which shows the artistic zeal of Kashmiri craftsmen. The word “Papier Machie” is French in origin meaning mashed paper or moulded pulp. The art of making articles of Papier Machie , ‘beautifully decorated in oriental motifs and handsomely lacquered’ as the Encyclopedia Britannica points out in volume 9 page 128, was known in the East, centuries before its introduction in Europe. In India too this art has existed since Mughal times and is most developed in paradise Kashmir. In Kashmir it is known by its Iranian name of Kari qalamdane (qalamdane means pen). With an increase in exports to various countries of the world, there has been a lot of product diversification in this particular craft. Traditionally the most famous and beautiful product was the inkpot or kalamdar (as the craft was already popular for). The innovative collection includes — flower vases, desktop accessories, trays, boxes for jewellery, candle stand, photo albums, decorative bowls and so on.

The making of Papier-Machie objects can be divided into two distinct categories, the sakhtsazi (making the object) and the naqashi (painting the surface). The first step involved in making Papier-Machie objects, is to soak paper in water till it frays and gets dissolved. This paper is pounded and mixed with an adhesive solution. The resultant pulp is shaped over moulds and allowed to dry and set. Once the desired object is ready, artisans draw intricate designs on these objects with variety of colours and designs. The golden colour is widely used, usually as a base for other designs in vibrant colours. Once the design is drawn the entire object is varnished number of times to give it a smooth finish. Finally these objects are coated with lacquer inside and outside when needed. This protects these artworks from getting spoilt due to water, sunlight etc. Now-a-days artisans have started using cardboard instead of paper. Papier-Machie vases, bowls and other decorative items have exquisite traditional designs in vibrant colors on them. The commonly used motifs on these artifacts are images of the maple leaf, kingfishers, flowers, birds and other attractive designs of natural beauty.

Papier-Machie is a delicate decorative art, which showcases the artistic zeal of a Kashmiri craftsman. Every household should be decorated with such beautiful artifacts not only for enhancing the beauty of the house but also to be appreciated by many.

Published: 2006-07-26
Author: kasturi mishra

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