It is rightly said, “If we are to preserve the art we must continue to create and pass it on”. But, the 700-year-old ‘Kashmiri paper mâché craft’ which was once famous and renowned; is currently losing its identity and is at the verge of perishing because of inadequate government support and decreasing customer demand. This has impacted the economic situation of several artisans who work on Kashmiri art forms as they are dependent on it for their livelihood. Hence, here in this article, we have tried to bring forth the story of one such paper maché handicraft artisans; depicting his history, art origin and his efforts to survive in the competitive and politically difficult environment.
Khurshid Ahmed Khan is a paper maché artisan residing at Amdapura Road, Srinagar. He is in this profession of maché art from last 30 - 35 years. The basic time that is required for preparing each piece varies as per the size and shape of the product. A small paper maché artefact can be handcrafted in two days whereas bigger artefacts take 10 days to a few months depending upon the degree of labour required. He has acquired this art form from Imtiaz Ahmed, his mentor and a Kashmiri artist and is working at his studio.
Considering the aspect of ‘monetary return’ from this art form, he is not much satisfied with the current scenario. In the initial years, he had a decent income from the paper maché craft. But due to political instability, riots, curfew and violent environment; the income from this profession has widely suffered.
Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic has barely left any area unaffected. Lockdown and social distancing practice has further worsened their basic source of earning. There is lot of piled up inventory which has further increased the storage cost. Hence, he is not completely satisfied with the current market scenario of the art form.
We at 'Revived By Surabhi' strive to help and lend our support to these artisans by showcasing their products on our platform and empowering them financially as well.
Here is Khurshid's recent work, isn't it amazing? Let's go, vocal for local ! :)