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Papier Mache of Kashmir

The art of Papier Mache was invented in China in about A.D.105. Many substances like old rag, fishnets and waste were used to make the paper for the purpose of documentation. It was in the 6th century A.D. that the route between the Pacific ocean and Mediterranean was discovered which ultimately became the source of link between Arabs and China. When Arabs occupied Samarqand in A.D.751, they took a number of Chinese prisoners with them from whom they learnt the art of paper making. From central Asia the paper making crossed over to Iran and then entered Kashmir during the reign of Sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin (A.D.1323 to A.D.1374).
Researchers have brought to light, the evidence, that the art of Papier Mache originated in Iran and was introduced into Kashmir by King Zain-Ul-Abidin. Under the leadership of Aziz Mughal, the first batch of workmen came to Kashmir from Iran.
The word Papier Mache has been derived from a French word which literally means “chewed paper”. But in Kashmir it was known by its Iranian title “Kari Qalamdarie” – A pen case. Initially this art was restricted to the preparation of pen cases which were common among Diwans (Secretaries). Later on this craft was given given the title of “Kari Munaqqash” which is nearer to the meaning of “Kari Qalamdarie”. One of the masters of this great trade was “Syed Turab”, who died in 1875A.D.
There are a variety of items in Papier Mache prepared by the craftsmen of Kashmir which have beautiful designs and colours and include pen stands, coasters, jewellery boxes, flower vases, lamp stands & shades, trays, Christmas decorations, photo frames, decorative bowls etc; all of which have a great demand in Europe and other parts of the world . Some of the items have pure silver or gold dust sprinkled onto them to increase their beauty. Traditionally, wood based Papier Mache is coated with a skinny stratum of stretched sheep skin which is well fitted for colouring pigments. The objects generally have dark background and suitable colours are black, green, blue and white. Designing on these objects requires skilled hands as the designing is very intricate.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Papier Mache
The word Papier Mache has been derived from a French word which literally means “chewed paper”. But in Kashmir it was known by its Iranian title “Kari Qalamdarie” – A pen case.
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