Paper Mache

Artistry

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Hakeem Ahsan Ali My father Hakim Manzoor Ahmad is a highly gifted paper mache artist. He has been engaged with the traditional Kashmiri paper mache artwork for about 40 years. His elder brother learnt the art from a man in their neighbourhood. My father was only 13 or 14 years old at that time. He liked what his elder brother was doing, so he also learnt the art. For years, my uncle was also engaged in paper mache artwork, but he doesn’t do it now. We live at Ganidoori, Alamgiri Bazar, Srinagar. From my childhood, I saw my father creating amazing paper mache artwork. His art made me feel very proud. He creates such amazing patterns, gives them such amazing colours. And I feel very proud that my father is rooted to the culture of our beloved valley. He is carrying forward one of our most cherished traditions of paper mache. Decorative items of paper mache are seen more commonly. But the paper mache artwork that my father does on the walls is truly unique. We can find such wonderful work of paper mache in ancient masjids and other religious shrines. We can find them in old houses of affluent Kashmiris. We can also find such colourful and wonderful work of paper mache on the walls in houseboats. The tourists get really surprised to see such creative artwork. They are greatly surprised when they are told that the work is done in paper mache. The government knew that my father is a paper mache artist of high caliber. In 2012, a fire broke out at the ancient Peer Dastgeer Sahib at Khanyar in Srinagar. Extensive damage was caused. The shrine was 200 years old, and the government undertook restoration work there. In addition to the woodwork, the artists had to reconstruct the paper mache work that was seen before the damage. Work of such high quality was required that the government got it done through The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). At that time, my father was among the group of artists who were chosen for the restoration work. It was highly specialized work that started in 2014 and took three years to complete. Talent Recognized Through Social Media But for so many years, my father’s immense talent was not recognized. My father is a master craftsman, but there was no support or recognition from the government. There wasn’t much support from the local people too. My father did not have many orders for his amazing craft. The real demand for my father’s work started when I created an Instagram page for him in 2018. Then the people in Kashmir got to know of his immense talent. Since then, there is good demand for the work done by my father. He keeps getting orders for making highly decorative paper mache panels in private homes. He charges Rs 2500 square foot for art work on the walls. If the design is highly intricate, then he charges up to Rs 8,000 per square foot. In these intricate designs, he uses real gold. People have seen my father’s work. When they see it in someone’s house, they make inquiries and reach us. They did not know the beauty of my father’s art till I posted it on social media. But now there is appreciation at people’s level. My father has one year’s booking in advance for his artwork. He has clients in Delhi also for his artwork. Some Of The Projects Undertaken By My Father 2010: Charar e Sharief 2013: Masjid at Police Line, Srinagar 2014 to 2017: Peer Dastageer Sahib, Khanyar 2016: Shah Hamdan Shrine, Tral 2017: Shalimar garden (For the artwork spoiled during the concert of Zubin Mehta 2018: First floor in the Masjid at Police Line, Anantnag 2022: Second floor in the masjid at Police Line, Anantnag Renovation work at Khanqah-e-Moula, Srinagar New work at Ziyarat Naqshband Sahib, Khanyar, Srinagar Extensive artwork in private homes

Hakeem Ahsan Ali

My father Hakim Manzoor Ahmad is a highly gifted paper mache artist. He has been engaged with the traditional Kashmiri paper mache artwork for about 40 years. His elder brother learnt the art from a man in their neighbourhood. My father was only 13 or 14 years old at that time. He liked what his elder brother was doing, so he also learnt the art.

For years, my uncle was also engaged in paper mache artwork, but he doesn’t do it now. We live at Ganidoori, Alamgiri Bazar, Srinagar.

From my childhood, I saw my father creating amazing paper mache artwork. His art made me feel very proud. He creates such amazing patterns, gives them such amazing colours. And I feel very proud that my father is rooted to the culture of our beloved valley. He is carrying forward one of our most cherished traditions of paper mache.

Decorative items of paper mache are seen more commonly. But the paper mache artwork that my father does on the walls is truly unique. We can find such wonderful work of paper mache in ancient masjids and other religious shrines. We can find them in old houses of affluent Kashmiris. We can also find such colourful and wonderful work of paper mache on the walls in houseboats.

The tourists get really surprised to see such creative artwork. They are greatly surprised when they are told that the work is done in paper mache.

The government knew that my father is a paper mache artist of high caliber. In 2012, a fire broke out at the ancient Peer Dastgeer Sahib at Khanyar in Srinagar. Extensive damage was caused. The shrine was 200 years old, and the government undertook restoration work there. In addition to the woodwork, the artists had to reconstruct the paper mache work that was seen before the damage.

Work of such high quality was required that the government got it done through The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). At that time, my father was among the group of artists who were chosen for the restoration work. It was highly specialized work that started in 2014 and took three years to complete.

Talent Recognized Through Social Media

But for so many years, my father’s immense talent was not recognized. My father is a master craftsman, but there was no support or recognition from the government. There wasn’t much support from the local people too. My father did not have many orders for his amazing craft.

The real demand for my father’s work started when I created an Instagram page for him in 2018. Then the people in Kashmir got to know of his immense talent.

Since then, there is good demand for the work done by my father. He keeps getting orders for making highly decorative paper mache panels in private homes. He charges Rs 2500 square foot for art work on the walls. If the design is highly intricate, then he charges up to Rs 8,000 per square foot. In these intricate designs, he uses real gold.

People have seen my father’s work. When they see it in someone’s house, they make inquiries and reach us. They did not know the beauty of my father’s art till I posted it on social media. But now there is appreciation at people’s level. My father has one year’s booking in advance for his artwork. He has clients in Delhi also for his artwork.

Some Of The Projects Undertaken By My Father

2010: Charar e Sharief

2013: Masjid at Police Line, Srinagar
2014 to 2017: Peer Dastageer Sahib, Khanyar
2016: Shah Hamdan Shrine, Tral
2017: Shalimar garden (For the artwork spoiled during the concert of Zubin Mehta
2018: First floor in the Masjid at Police Line, Anantnag
2022: Second floor in the masjid at Police Line, Anantnag
Renovation work at Khanqah-e-Moula, Srinagar
New work at Ziyarat Naqshband Sahib, Khanyar, Srinagar
Extensive artwork in private homes

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