Many of us have attempted the art of papièr mâchè, whether it be in an elementary school art class or as a fun craft project at home. The process of making papièr mâchè can be pretty messy and it doesn’t always turn out as expected! That’s why these Kashmir papièr mâchè ornaments from India and Pakistan are so amazing!
Papièr mâchè, which is French for chewed paper, was introduced to Kashmir in the Northwestern region of India in the 15th Century by a Kashmiri prince. The prince had spent time in Samarkand in Central Asia where he was first introduced to the art, which was highly favored by Mughal Emperors.
Papièr mâchè can be comprised of cardboard or wood, but the most common material is of course paper. The process of creating papièr mâchè begins by first soaking paper in water until it disintegrates. The paper is then pounded, mixed with an adhesive solution and shaped over moulds. Paper that has been pounded to pulp results in the smoothest final product. It is then allowed to dry and set. Once the moulds have dried, the shape is cut away from the mould in two halves and then glued together again. The surface of the papièr mâchè is then smoothed over with a piece of stone or baked clay, and then layered with pieces of tissue paper. A base colour is then applied to the surface and intricate designs are hand-painted on top of that. The object will then be sandpapered or burnished before being painted with lacquer.
What specifically defines Kashmiri papièr mâchè are the designs that decorate its surface. Red, gold and silver paint are staples of the Kashmiri style, and are usually made by grinding and soaking vegetable mineral dyes in pigment. The designs painted on the surface usually depict natural imagery such as flowers or birds, with a strong Persian influence throughout. Arabesque detailing is also quite common on Kashmiri papièr mâchè objects. This is usually painted in gold against a brown or red background depicting rose blossoms, detailed spirals and scroll work. Many small Kashmiri papièr mâchè items are accompanied by brass detailing, and larger objects usually depict illustrations of landscapes.
The intricate hand painted details on our Kashmiri Papièr mâchè ornaments make them a stand out gift. Or let these beauties adorn your tree this year, and let your commitment to fair trade shine!