Kashmir’s dying art of paper mâché , adorning rooms the world over, got a new lease of life with the 600-year-old art form being incorporated in school and college curriculum finally.
J&K education minister Nayeem Akhtar told HT that the government has charted a fresh course to revive the dying and dwindling art form.
“The Nawakadal College (for girls in Srinagar) has already been asked to incorporate paper mâché as part of their craft curriculum,” said Akhtar.
The art form, which is now only practiced in some areas, will be introduced at elementary level in both government and private schools.
“Students in Kashmir have less number of mediums available to express their creative instincts. This medium will hone their artistic skills, which can even be taken up as a lucrative entrepreneurship ventures at later stages,” said Akhtar.
Paper mâché is a delicate but highly decorative art introduced to Kashmir in the 15th Century by a local prince who spent years in prison at Samarkand in Central Asia.
Nazeer Ahmad Punjabi, whose family is into the trade of paper mâché since 1954, welcomed the government move. “It will help elevate art in the long run,” said Punjabi, a major exporter.
Saleem Beg, a member National Monument Authority of India and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, said that if the art form is introduced in a scientific way from Class 5 onwards it will touch new heights.
This unique craft involves the use of paper pulp for creating beautiful artefacts painted. From intricately drawn kingfishers to maple leaves and other motifs, the designs of ‘Arabesque’, ‘Yarkand’ and ‘Hazara’ still elicit amazement from buyers locally and outside.