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Mahyah Binti Idris

Papier-mâché is the French term for "chewed paper."

Papier-mâché is the French term for "chewed paper". It refers to things created by moulding paper pulp into a variety of different forms and then decorating them with patterns. The term 'papier-mâché' has come to be associated with Kashmiri art and culture. King Zain-ul-Abidin established the papier-mâché method in Kashmir in the 15th century. Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani, a Sufi mystic, arrived in Kashmir in the late 14th century with his disciples, most of whom were artisans. These artisans worked with hand-made paper pulp sourced from Iran and Central Asia. They established a permanent residence in Kashmir, where they practiced a variety of different handicrafts including wood carving, copper engraving, and carpet weaving, among others. They and their families moved to Kashmir for settlement.

FLower design on box You will come across a myriad of papier-mâché objects of different sizes in Kashmir. | Mahyah Binti Idris



It's tough to comprehend that something constructed entirely of scrap paper could be so lovely and exquisite in its appearance. The Kashmiri artisans are so incredibly talented that they can transform even waste paper into a beautiful piece of art. With Kashmiri papier-mâché you can liven up your house. You will come across a myriad of papier-mâché objects of different sizes in Kashmir. Jewelry boxes, storage containers, mugs, bowls, trays, pen holders, and a variety of artistic objects such as vases, small hookah pots, picture frames, and miniature elephants can be found in this section. Each and every item is artistically painted, and it is difficult not to fall in love with each item you come across. It takes a good amount of time and a lot of accuracy to create this handcraft, regardless of how simple the concept behind it seems to be to the casual observer.


a plate of papier mache Sakhtsazi and Naqashi are the essential steps of Kashmiri papier-mâché. | Mahyah Binti Idris


Sakhtsazi and Naqashi are the essential steps of Kashmiri papier-mâché. The Sakhtsazi step involves soaking the paper pulp in water for three to four days. A stone mortar is then used to grind the paper until it has a uniform consistency. The pulp is allowed to dry in the sun before being combined with atji (rice glue). Then, the mixture is shaped around a mould made of clay or wood. After being removed from the mould before it has fully dried, the paper is shaped and coated to give it a smooth finish on the exterior. A preliminary layer of paint is applied during the Naqashi stage. The artist then paints a pattern on the exterior of the piece by hand. Traditional painters often employ colors that are obtained from minerals, organic materials, or vegetable sources.

vases with flowers Traditional painters often employ colors that are obtained from minerals, organic materials, or vegetable sources. | Mahyah Binti Idris


Even though Kashmiris take great pleasure in their exquisite crafts, the demand and sale of these items have been decreasing in recent years. The papier-mâché handcraft is not only a source of income for thousands of Kashmiri craftsmen, but it is also an important component of the region's cultural heritage. Hope that this magnificent art form will continue to enrich the culture of Kashmir and the lives of their future generations.

Click to know about the Unique handicrafts of Kashmir.



Keywords: paper mache, paper, pulp, kashmir, design, pattern, handicraft, art


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