City Craftsmen Turn To NID To Hone Skills

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SRINAGAR — Nearly 25 city craftsmen have turned to India’s premier de­sign institute, National Institute of Design, for assistance by en­rolling for new techniques, con­temporary designs for upgrading their skills to be able to meet the commercial demands. This will server to restore the Kashmiri Paper Mache, a 600-year-old art which is dying a silent death.

As part of the Government Of India’s (GoIs) initiative for up­grading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts and Crafts for Development (USTTAD), which was launched in 2015, the NID has been enrolling minority com­munities like Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains, engaged in the practice of traditional arts and crafts. NID professor Tanishka Kachru said, “The craftsmen have been facing a lot of threat from poor exposure to newer technologies, low capi­tal and absence of market intel­ligence. We are training them on how to make contemporary prod­ucts appealing to both, the na­tional and international markets by themselves.”

NID is training them in mould-making, building struc­tural stability with the mate­rial through innovations, using e-commerce platforms, mar­keting, et cetera. “Since they are dependent on a network of people to sell their products, we are training them how to click good pictures of the prod­ucts and upload online,” she said. The government of Kash­mir only recently included pa­per-mâché as part of the school curriculum to promote the art. The art of paper mache across the world has been adorning drawing rooms in the form of wall hangings, to paper stands, to jewellery boxes to souvenirs.

Paper mâché is a delicate but highly decorative art introduced to Kashmir in the 15th Century by a local prince who learnt the art during the years he spent in pris­on at Samarkand in Central Asia. This unique craft involves the use of paper pulp to create beautifully painted artefacts.

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