Papier mâché is an ancient, traditional craft that has existed in India for hundreds of years. Kashmir papier-mâché was introduced to medieval India in the 14th Century by Muslim saint Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani who came across the craft in Persia. Traditionally, craftsmen used hand-made paper pulp from Iran in Central Asia to sculpt boxes, trays, bowls and cups. Painting was already refined skill in Kashmir at this point, used widely in the decoration of mud walls and products made of wood and bark and so the two crafts quickly married together. Over time, Kashmiri artisans added their own flourishes to the art form, making their craft infamous around the world. There are two important steps of Kashmiri papier-mâché - Sakhtsazi and Naqashi. The first step, Sakhtsazi, involves making the base of the papier-mâché mask or object with the paper pulp, while Naqashi is the final step of painting and decoration.
Masks are a part of traditional Indian culture. In Odisha, masks, made of wood and papier-mâché, are worn by artists during Jatra. In Assam these are worn by locals during Rongali Bihu, where people dance with joy and freedom. Masks in Odisha, West Bengal, North East are seen as a form of cultural expression, as well as a creative outlet like sculpture or painting. Our tiger masks are based on traditional ideas, with a fun modern twist. The bright colours and bold, eye-catching design drew us in immediately and we knew our customers would love them just as much as us.
Made by Apindra, an expert artisan based in the Heritage Village Raghurajpur. He began his journey in the craft of palm leaf engraving at the age of 10, assisting his father. Young Apindra joined the family craft enterprise full-time after completing his primary education. He later attended a government craft training in Bhubaneshwar, and a design workshop at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi. The versatile artist is also a master of Pattachitra, a religious art form. Gradually, as the family business grew, Apindra travelled across the country showcasing his traditional skills and innovative adaptations. Now part of the Craftmark group, an organisation that authenticates genuine hand-crafted processes from India. He is a skilled artist who is trying to find a new path for this traditional art form and works on modern pieces like kettles, bottles as well as our colourful tiger masks. He aims to continue the tradition of Kashmiri papier-mâché masks in new and interesting ways.
You can shop Apindra's Tiger Masks here.