On a holiday in Srinagar, Kashmir in 2014 I came across a small shop selling these beautiful items and luckily got invited to meet the artisans. I got to see the papier mache items being painted and I fell in love instantly. I learnt about the historic process, and how it is truly part of their Kashmiri heritage.
For Over 400 years Kashmir has been known for its exquisite handcrafted papier mache made from paper pulp. These light weight hand painted items range from boxes, plates, photo frames to christmas bells, and are amazingly hard wearing.
[Quoted from the Wiki article on Kashmir papier-mache]
Kashmir papier-mâché is a handicraft of Kashmir that was brought by Muslims from Persia in the 15th century. It is based primarily on paper pulp, and is a richly decorated, colourful artifact; generally in the form of vases, bowls, or cups (with and without metal rims), boxes, trays, bases of lamps, and many other small objects. These are made in homes, and workshops, in Srinagar, and other parts of the Kashmir Valley…
Papier-mâché is the French word for “chewed paper”, which is a standard English loan word, for objects made by moulding paper pulp in various shapes. Then decorating them with designs in various colours. The papier-mâché technique of using paper pulp for making decorative objects was first adopted in Kashmir in the 15th century by King Zain-ul-Abidin who brought with him skilled craftsman in the art.
The skilled artisans involved with this painstaking process are called sakhta makers. The materials involved with this process are discarded paper, cloth, straw of rice plant, copper sulfate, which are mixed and made into a pulp.
[For more information on this fascinating process please read the rest of the article.]
I made the spontaneous decision to bring back a large selection of their products to share with Stroud, and on another visit to the area I discovered the handmade jewellery and the other products that I have available.
Here are the artisans painting the papier mache items: