Monday, July 20th, 2009 | Author:

Papier Mache is a unique art form. It is most popular and prevalent in the beautiful valley of Kashmir. In fact, one reason behind the fame of Kashmir apart from scenic beauty is craft of papier maché. Legends say, this craft was introduced by a Kashmiri prince who had to spend several years in a prison Samarkand in Central Asia. There he learned this craft and later when he came back to the valley, he introduced it. So how this works? One needs to take certain elements like cloth, soaked waste paper, copper sulphate and rice straw. Once these items are put together, they are mixed and squeezed into a pulp. This resulting pulp is further pressed on to clay, wood or metal moulds. The purpose is to solidify the pulp. Once that happens, white layer of gypsum and glue is used to coat it and then rubbed smooth. The last stage involves getting done with sand papered piece and painting with vibrant Persian floral designs.


Paper mache is just one of the many tools available to skilled Indian craftsmen. These talented artists have grown up on several such products and managed to produce things of highest quality and artistic value. Objects like horn, tortoise shell, shoal pith, conch shell and coconut shell have been creatively used to produce great art works. Such objects have also been very helpful in producing items for normal use in households. Lamps, toy furniture, trays, buttons etc are common things made by these craftsmen.


States like Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala are renowned for skilled craftsmen. The craftsmen have not really received their due despite possessing abundance of talent. Craftsmen are special breed that must be preserved and encouraged. They have kept giving us great art works since centuries and it’s high time we pay them their due.

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