Indian Kashmiri Papier Mache Jewelry Boxes

Small Indian paper mache box 9

Papier mache elephant

Kashmiri artisans create handcrafted and hand painted Papier Mache Jewellery Boxes using the fine art techniques introduced from Iran to Kashmir in the 15th Century by a Kashmiri King Zainul Abidin.He bought master craftsmen from Samarkand to teach the art of Papier Mache to the people of Kashmir. These type of jewellery boxes are not only beautifully decorated, but are surprisingly light and strong.

Making of Papier Mache Jewellery Boxes

Sakhtsazi (Making the Object):

Waste paper is soaked in water for several days until it disintegrates. The excess water is drained and the soaked waste paper,cloth,rice straw and copper sulphate are mixed to form a pulp.This pulp is then pounded.Paper that has been pounded to pulp has the smoothest finish in the final product. When the pounding has not been so thorough, the finish is less smooth. This mixture is placed in a mould and left to dry for two to three more days. On the drying of pulp, the shape is cut away from the mould in two halves and then glued again.  The surface is coated with the layer of glue and gypsum,rubbed smooth with a stone or baked piece of clay and pasted with layers of tissue paper.

Naqashi (Painting the Surface):

Designing on these objects requires skilled hands as the designing is very intricate.

A base color is painted on, and a design is added free hand.  The object is then sand papered or burnished and is finally painted with several coats of lacquer.Colours used are vegetable/mineral dyes in pigment or gemstone powder form.

The designs and decorations of the Kashmiri Papier Mache, usually in the form of flowers and birds. 'Arabesque', done in gold against a brown or red background to show sprays of rose blossoms in fine lines and 'Yarkand', an elaborate design built up in spirals with gold rosettes radiating from various centers and white flowers laid over gold scroll work.

Care for Papier Mache Jewellery Box:

  • Never wet Papier Mache Jewellery Box.It is basically just compressed paper and may become a shapeless wet lump
  • Wipe with a soft cloth and keep dust free.
  • Do not store or handle roughly
  • Keep separately wrapped away from other objects.The laquer varnish coating can wear off and the paints can chip making it look very dull