Srinagar-based craftsmen upgrade skills at NID
In a bid to restore the Kashmiri Paper Mache — a 600-year-old art which is dying a silent death — nearly 25 Srinagar-based craftsmen have turned to the country’s premier design institute for assistance.
The craftsmen have enrolled in the National Institute of Design as students to learn new techniques, contemporary designs and upgrade their skills to be able to meet the commercial demands.
As part of the Centre’s initiative Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/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.