Christmas proves to be a boon for Kashmir papier mache artisans
Christmas has proved to be a boon for papier mache artisans in Kashmir, as they are doing brisk business.
Artisans received bulk orders for making decorative items from Germany, Great Britain and from different parts of India.
As the festival knocks the door, the artisans are giving final touches to various decorative items.
In the last few months, there has been surge in the papier-mache exports in Kashmir in wake of the demand from different parts of the world.
Papier mache has flourished in Kashmir in the past. The art originated in Persia and was brought to Kashmir in the 15th century by a Kashmiri prince who spent some years in a prison in Samarkand in Central Asia, and was favoured by the Mughal rulers.
The papier-mache artisans in Kashmir transform a variety of utility articles into exquisite pieces of rare beauty.
A papier mache worker, Gulam Mohammad Mir said on Monday that around 30 to 35 artisans are busy making the decorative items, as they have to meet the deadline.
"During festivals and specially during Christmas, we have to make extra decorative items and we are very busy. All the artisans are engaged in this work. Around 30 to 35 artisans are working and busy finishing the orders," said Mir.
The traditional method of making these articles in Kashmir begins with soaking waste paper in water for several days till it disintegrates.
Then after draining the excess water from the paper, cloth, rice, straw and copper sulphate are mixed to form a pulp, which is placed in moulds and left to dry for two to three days.
After cutting out the dried shape from the mould, it is then stuck again with glue and gypsum and is rubbed smooth with stone and covered with layers of tissue paper. Then a base colour is painted and designs made on it. It is again sand papered and finally, painted with different paints.
An exporter, Nasir Ahmad Mir, said the items such as stars, moon, Santa Claus are being exported to many cities including Bangalore, Madras, Mumbai, Delhi and Kodaikanal.
"Decorative items such as stars, moon, Santa Claus are exported three months before the Christmas. The items are also exported within India also like Bangalore, Madras, Mumbai, Delhi and kodaikanal. Most of our items are exported to Jaipur and Madras," said Mir.
Xmas stars, trees, cribs and decorative items form a vital part of Christmas celebrations in the state.
Marking the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas is celebrated by many across the world on December 25.
Christians make up around two percent of India's 1.2 billion strong population with its largest concentration in the southern and north-eastern states.