Papier Mache is one of the most popular of crafts practiced in Kashmir today . The tradition in Kashmir has its origin rooted in the 15th century when king Zain ul Abideen developed the first paper industry in Kashmir in 1417- 67 AD, after he returned from detention in Samarkand. He brought along artisans of various skills to develop crafts and introduce new trades in India. And soon, because of its quality, the Kashmiri paper or Khosurkagaz was much in demand in the world and the rest of the country for writing manuscripts. This brings to the mystery of why the art of painted papier-mâché in Kashmir was originally confined to making Kalamdan or the pen-case only and got to be known as Kari-Kalamdani.
Motifs and Designs
A characteristic feature of Kashmiri handicrafts is the free exchange of designs and motifs across various craft forms. Designs from woodcarvings are painted on objects as papier mache designs. Similarly, designs from shawls and carpets are also emulated on papier mache craft items. The names of the motifs retain their relationship with the object of their inspiration and become known through them. Some of the popular motifs of Kashmir’s papiermache craft are kaleen (carpet), kashan (a carpet design named after a city in Iran), jamavar (a type of shawl worn by the Kashmiris), gul-andar-gul (flower upon flower, indicating the complexity of design), gul-i-hazara (a thousand flowers), gul-e-wilayat (foreign flowers), bagaldar chinar (a type of chinar leaf motif), and gonder (a bunch) designs. Besides these, a number of motifs are used to depict various themes.