Papier Mache/Kar-i-Qalamdani of Kashmir

Papier Mache/Kar-i-Qalamdani of Kashmir

The minutely detailed craft, which - according to national awardee Mohd. Shafi Nagoo - requires 'education, patience, and eyesight' is incomparable for the fine painting work done on objects made of papier mache - all the painting, including filling in of colours, is done with a brush made of a single cat hair. Shafi Nagoo uses the Hindi proverb 'Sui se kua khodna (Using a needle point to dig a well) to convey the amount of delicate and patient work that underlines the artwork.

Objects made of papier mache are built of paper pulp, or layers of paper pulp - hence the name papier mache or 'mashed paper'. However, the craft of papier mache refers, in practice, here actually to the technique of surface decoration rather than the creation of the body of the object.

The craft was originally known in Kashmir 'by its Iranian name viz. Kar- i-Qalamdani' (Qalamdani = pen-case). It is believed that in the initial stages the craft was restricted to the ornamentation of pen-cases. The craft was also known as 'Kar-I-Munaqqash, which...could be because it was used for ornamenting smooth surfaces made of paper pulp or layers of polished paper'.

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