Paper Mache is a delicate decorative art, born in Persia, originally and brought to Kashmir by a Kashmiri Prince who spent years in a prison at Samarkand in Central Asia. The art was further encouraged by mogul emperors that came from Uzbekistan in Central Asia in the 15th and 16th century and ruled India for nearly 200-300 years. The mogul emperors traveled to Kashmir, a serene and beautiful valley with a lot of beauty to inspire. The surroundings harnessed the creativity and romance for this art and finally Paper Mache took its roots in the simple homes of these gentle people and thus— a new art form was born. Paper Mache became the folk art of Kashmir; passing down from father to son, from generation to generation. Paper Mache involves two main steps: ‘Sakhtsazi’ is the actual production of the item and ‘Naqashi’ is when the item is painted with any number of motifs.
This Kashmiri craft recycles waste paper into beautiful artifacts painted by expert craftsmen. The wonderfully vibrant hand painted motifs on the different types of items look illuminated as a result of the shiny varnish finish. Paper Mache (also spelled Papier Mache, Papier Machie) has a long and rich tradition in Kashmir, it is a delicate decorative art which shows the artistic zeal of a craftsman.
Motifs are most commonly nature oriented such as birds singing or flowers bursting forth in full bloom.