In a bid to promote the dying art of papier mâché, the University of Kashmir has launched a six-month certificate course, the first of its kind for any traditional craft in the Valley.
In Kashmir, papier-mâché, a composite material made from paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles and bound with an adhesive such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste, is used to manufacture small boxes, trays and cases. Intricate designs are then painted on to these objects, giving them a distinctive look.
According to a statement by the university, the course has been introduced to preserve the traditional craft and enhance the skills of those artisans who know the basic rudiments of the trade.
The course will be conducted by the Directorate of Lifelong Learning (DLL), University of Kashmir, in collaboration with the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL).
The course, designed by artisans, experts and scholars, is aimed at exposing workers to market trends directly and encouraging them to set up their own stalls at international and national exhibitions, the university authorities said.
They added that efforts would be made to form self-help groups among the beneficiaries to ensure that they can easily access various funding organisations to promote their trade.
"It is very encouraging to see that our university, in collaboration with other agencies, is getting involved in such programmes which have the potential to transform the socio-economic landscape of our society, particularly of those people who have upheld the traditional art and culture of our Valley for centuries," said University of Kashmir vice-chancellor Prof MA Sofi, who added that it was both a social and moral responsibility of the university to make efforts to save the dying art.
"Unfortunately, this art is vanishing day by day. We need to promote the core competence areas and improve marketing and develop skills, so that we can have a wider reach," added Prof Sofi.