Papier maché ornament merchant
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of papier maché ornament merchant in the modern-day state of Jammu and Kashmir in India, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1890s. In India the leaf of the palmyra palm was the first material used for writing and in the making of books. Kashmiri papier maché is famous for its decorative flower and bird designs, which owe much to the influence of Mughal art, and grew up in that area due to the introduction of the paper-making industry during the time of the Mughal Emperor Babur (died 1530). Papier maché objects are either made by pasting layers of soaked paper onto a mould, or by putting paper pulp into a mould and allowing it to set. When the required thickness is achieved the surface is covered with a layer of chalk and glue and then burnished to give a smooth base for the painted designs. Today black is the usual background colour, but for luxury items this is painted with gold and silver paint and sometimes even gold and silver leaf. In Kashmir and elsewhere in northern India papier maché is used to make decorative items such as boxes, small tables, bowls, vases and trays. In southern India papier maché is used to make toys, dolls, puppets, figures of animals and birds, masks and figures of Hindu deities.