Papier Mache

Papièr Mâchè is a French word, which means chewed paper. This is made from a combination of products such as paper pieces or paper pulp mixed with textiles. This is then bounded with the help of adhesive, any adhesive such as glue, wallpaper paste or starch is used to bind the pieces together.

This is one among the many handicrafts that are practiced in Kashmir. In Kashmir, this Papièr Mâchè concept is used to create art crafts that display rare art pieces related to Kashmir.

This entire handicraft process can be divided into two parts in Kashmir. The making process of this Papièr Mâchè is known as sakhtsazi and other painting the surface of the made product naqashi. All the products are made in the traditional way using the waste paper, which is soaked in water for quite a period.

Today, these type of products are put to various uses. This art found in other places of the world is used as effigies in South American countries, used in theatres, puppetry and in lamps.

History of Papièr Mâchè

Papièr Mâchè was introduced by the Kashmiri Prince in 15th century. This art was learned by him when he had spent some years in the Samarkand prison, which is in Central Asia. From then this art has been practiced in the land of Kashmir.

The origin of this art can be traced to the land of Persia. This was one among the other arts, which was highly favored by the Emperors of Persia in the 14th and 15th century.

While this was introduced in Kashmir the only products that were made using this art was painted boxes, trays and cases.  Later, it was used to make some decorative items for the armor and shields used by the army of the land.

This art was also in use in Ancient Egypt. The coffins used by the Ancient Egypt people for mummies were made from Papièr Mâchè. Instead of waste paper they used layers and layers of papyrus and in some cases linen and used plaster as the binding material.

Papièr Mâchè technology reached the Europe considerably late when compared to Asia and Egypt. They were introduced only in 1725 and they were treated as the low cost alternative to the carved wood architecture, which ruled the continent at that time.

Papièr Mâchè Traditional Preparation Method

The traditional preparation method of Papièr Mâchè involves soaking the waste paper in water for many days. This is then left until the paper completely disintegrates. After the paper disintegrates, the excess water is drained. The soaked paper pulp is then mixed with pieces of cloth, rice straw and copper sulfate. This turns the soaky mixture into a pulp. This is then modeled or molded to whatever product it is intended for and is allowed to dry. The drying period is usually three to four days. The product from the mold is cut into halves and is again glued with the help of proper glue. The entire surface of the product is then coated with a layer of glue and gypsum.

Coloring the Papièr Mâchè Products

The colors are added to the Papièr Mâchè product at the end stage. First, the base paint is added and the required design is made on the product free hand. The product is then sandpaper or even burnished. The last stage is the application of several layers of paint. The process is known as naqashi. The colors used for painting these products are made naturally. They are obtained by grinding the soaked vegetable mineral dyes.

Usual Product Designs

The Papièr Mâchè products produced in Kashmir are of flowers and birds. A strong taste of Persian architecture can still be seen in their designs. Most common paints used in the products are gold and silver. The intricate decorations found in most of the products show that they are affiliated to the Persian architecture. Some of the designs found in this Kashmiri Handicraft areArabesque where the color of gold and brown dominate on the red and some rose is sprayed on the fine lines of the designs. Yarkand is another design where one can find rosettes made of gold and white flowers over the gold scroll work. This type of design is mostly found on the boxes, bowls and vases.

Other product designs are houseboats of Kashmir, which is richly decorated with a scenic Kashmiri landscape, can be found in Kashmir.

The world has improved and so has the handicraft of Kashmir. They have grown to include Christmas products in their handicrafts. Quite contrary to the heavy design work the products are very light and beautifully decorated.

Sale of Papièr Mâchè Products

The Jammu and Kashmir state have taken upon itself to sell the Papièr Mâchè products. They have developed a handicrafts limited corporation, which is involved in selling the products made in the land of Jammu and Kashmir and Papièr Mâchè is one among them. Though these products seem to be made by a single person, it is a group effort that brings the final product out. It is the dedication and effort of many artists, which gives us these beautiful products.

Related Image


Also Browse Following Under This Section

Related Topics

Culture in Jammu & Kashmir

The Indian state Jammu and Kashmir inhabits diverse and distinct culture. It encompasses various lifestyles and habits....


Jammu and Kashmir is one of the states in India that is best known for its cultural heritage and rich craft which has....

Rouf Dance

The most well liked customary dance of...

Sonamarg Trekking

In Jammu and Kashmir, Trekking is the...