Winner of four national awards and one international award, Maqbool Jan, an artist from the Lal Bazaar area in Srinagar, made an old map of the city on fabric using the technique of papier-mâché and watercolors.
The 56-year-old artist from Srinagar wants to see this work on display in the Indian Parliament.
“It took me two years to draw the ancient city map of Srinagar on a 5 x 7 foot white fabric using the papier mache technique. It will take another month to complete it, ”says Jan, who is a registered craftsman with the Department of Handicrafts.
He adds that his wish is to see his masterpiece exhibited in Parliament, the Kashmir Assembly or in a museum.
“The new generation should see our culture through our art. This would give a lot of impetus to the artisans of the Kashmir valley. Paper mache is the heart of our heritage, ”he says.
Maqbool Jan with his artwork showing the ancient map of the city of Srinagar
Jan tells Your story that the idea of making the old map of the city of Srinagar came to his mind when he saw his city lose its glory due to the pollution of water bodies, encroachments and illegal constructions .
“Through this art, I send a stronger and clearer message that we must preserve our heritage. Kashmir is known for its natural beauty and pristine glory and we should try to protect it. “
Jan adds: “I want to show how our famous Dal Lake looked like ancient Srinagar, and what ancient Srinagar looked like. What our shrines, mosques and gardens looked like earlier. In order to boost the tourism sector, we need to take care of our tourist destinations. “
Jan was inspired to create this card from a shawl on display at the Srinagar Museum. The card on this shawl is drawn by Sozni job. Jan wanted to recreate the same with papier mache.
The art of papier-mâché
There is no such school where young people in the Kashmir valley learn the art of papier-mâché, but Jan has already tried to train dozens of students.
In his residence in the Mughal Mohalla district of Lal Bazar, Jan works alongside his colleague Firdous Hussain Jan and his wife. In one room Jan and his colleague are busy working on papier mache and in another room his wife paints the paper mache containers, glasses and other objects.
Soon after losing his father, Jan joined the art and created an unparalleled profession.
“Unfortunately, there is no institute where papier mache can be taught. For a long time, artists have called for a course to be set up by institutions in the Kashmir valley to elevate this art form, ”explains Jan.
In 2015, Maqbool won the National award for papier mâché and received the President’s Award of India at a grand ceremony in New Delhi honoring artisans from across the country.
With over 40 years of experience, Maqbool is a prolific painter and papier-mâché artist from Kashmir, having already won a State Prize in 2013.
Maqbool Jan is working on the old Srinagar city map with his colleague
Cashmere and papier-mâché art
Historically, the art of papier-mâché was introduced to Kashmir in the 15th century by a Kashmiri prince who had spent years in prison in Samarkand in Central Asia.
However, some believe that the history of papier-mâché in the region dates back to the 14th century, when a Muslim saint – Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, known as Shah-e-Hamdan – brought skilled artists to Kashmir from Persia. .
During the period of the Sultanate of Kashmir in the 14th century, large numbers of migrants, especially those from Persia and Central Asia, traveled to Kashmir and introduced many arts and crafts, according to historians.
The art of papier-mâché has been passed down orally from generation to generation. Today, papier-mâché artisans can still be found in the narrow lanes of downtown Srinagar.
A dying art form
Jan also laments that he does not earn enough from this art and called on the government to promote the art of papier mache so that artisans have a good life.
“I want the art of papier-mâché to reach our future generations, but I’m afraid young people will take an interest in it, given the paltry income that an artist is capable of generating. I have always asked the government to take care of the artists so that more crafts are created which will uplift the tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir. I have always realized that tourists are fond of local crafts, ”he says.
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