Friday, October 23, 2009




“I am here dear. How nice to see you people out so early from the bank today !  ”

His name was Sadiq Ali . He was from Hassanabad,  Rainawari. That day, we met him  at Raina’s News Agency near Polo View, Srinagar . Raina's News Agency was exactly near Mahhata’s photo shop .Many residents of Srinagar used to go to this shop to buy English newspapers . So did Sadiq Ali .He would subscribe to the  Times of India ( Bombay edition ) to read editorials of Giri Lal Jain and philosophical write-ups of Sham Lal. .Sadiq Ali always used a particular brand of imported perfume, which to our knowledge, no one used in the  Kashmir valley . That made us to smell his presence around. His  father ,  Jaffar Ali   was a renowned papier mache artist of Kashmir . Jaffar Ali was personally known to Mrs Gandhi. On two or three occasions ,Indira Ji had bought  papier mache items from Jaffar Ali.

Some of us in the bank got attracted to Sadiq Ali's  affable mannerism , literary temper and in depth study of history and events that shaped the destiny of the subcontinent and more precisely Kashmir .Sadiq Ali  loved music , dressed well and read lot of books , magazines and travelogues .A post graduate with diploma in foreign relations,  he was an ace photographer . He had liberal outlook  and was  married to  a girl from South Africa . He loved dogs .He wrote poetry .The notice board outside his government accommodation in Gandhi Nagar,  Jammu warned,
“ BEWARE OF DOGS ”. In Kashmir, Sadiq Ali's house was also subjected to firing and   grenade attacks  by  terrorists.

I never knew his politics or political arena but Sadiq Ali was always  free from malice , prejudice or bias. Post 1990, I met him at Jammu railway station. He was deeply hurt by what was happening in Kashmir. He sought welfare of many  of my colleagues  in the bank and told me this :-

" I am pained to see the plight of Kashmiri Pandits at this moment . I want to tell one thing to you people . Forget all at the moment . Just focus on the education of your children.It is the greatest tool with which people  re-establish themselves and stand up once more  . When you come back from Delhi,drop in at your convenience. I live in goverment accommodation  at Gandhi Nagar near the hospital?. " 

I am  privy to another facet of Sadiq Ali's personality .He literally fought to get a Kashmiri Pandit boy from Rainawari appointed as a clerk in Legislative Council . The boy had lost his mother to cancer. I also knew his younger brothers . Immediate younger one to Sadiq Ali ( I do not remember this name could be Ghulam Hassan  possibly  ) looked after the business and would come to the bank quite often.The youngest Manzoor was always jovial , affectionate and handsome . The family had a white horse . Manzoor spoke fluent English and enjoyed horse rides.
He remained  a member of  Telephone Advisory Board, Small Saving Advisory Board, North Railway Advisory  Board and member of the editorial board of Nawai-Subah newspaper. His son Tanvir Sadiq is also in active politics presently.

About Sadiq Ali, captain S K Tickoo remembers this :-

"He was a noble human being, who treated everyone with love, affection and dignity.
I've had couple of meetings with him, and the time spent thus , was quality time.
One of his very close relatives was an area manager of a pharmaceutical company, and we were the sole distributors. On every Nav Roz , he would bring deliciously cooked fish for our lunch.One Nav Roz was still some 2 weeks to come, Sadiq Ali, his relative and myself had a chance meeting at Subhana Tailors, and Sadiq Ali told his kin, 'this Nav Roz on me' , and almost sought my approval: 'It's ok, Captain' .I've the taste of the fish, still in my mouth.Sad, we lost him  too early !"

It is only through him  that I gained fairly
good knowledge of   papier mache art of the Kashmir Valley. His family  did  their papier mache business under the name and style of  Jaffar Ali Artist ,Hassanabad Rainawari .

Sadiq Ali breathed his last from a heart ailment in 2011.Peace be to his soul..                                

( L to R Mir Lasjan, GM Sadiq,Jaffar Ali Artist, Mrs Indira Gandhi and Sadiq Ali .Photo courtesy Manzoor Jaffar Ali ) 


Kashmir papier mache is a traditional craft among Shiite Muslims of the valley. It was possibly introduced in Kashmir by the  artisans from Central Asia ( Samarkand ) during the rule of Sultan Zain ul Abdin .From pulp to the finished product , it s a long journey . Pulp is made of paper soaked in water for about five weeks .This pulp is then made to dry in open sunshine . This dried paper is powdered and mixed with rice water so that it can easily coagulate . This mixture is then put in moulds .Papier mache objects are then released from these moulds once they get shaped ,and become dry.These objects are then given two rough coats of coloured paint . The objects are made smooth with pumice stones and again coated with glue and fine tissue paper .A fine razor blade is then used to remove the bumps on the surface .Now joins a team of very skilled artist for finishing the objects. They again give a base coat with paint and the master artist beautifully sketches details on each object with a soft hair brush. Another artist colours the sketches with poster paints . This is followed by drying prior to which two coats of varnish are also applied . Thereafter artists also add 22 carat gold or silver outlines to the sketches . The object is again given a coat of varnish to make it appear glossy. The inner surfaces are coated with black paint .The object is now ready with floral designs , birds ,maple leaves , animals ,almond eyed women , other motifs and Mughal period images .

.Objects made through this process represent beautiful talcum powder boxes , Jewellery boxes , bangles , table lamps , decoration material , flower vases . wall hangings , trays , photo frames ,bowls , cups , containers , coasters , letter holders and pen boxes .

Papier Mache of Kashmir  has good market in Europe , USA , Australia and some Asian countries . Lately the domestic market in India is also expanding . Tourist coming to Kashmir necessarily shop for talcum or jewellery boxes and bangles from papier mache shops .

( Avtar Mota)


  1. Mota sahib.
    I have for the first time seen a papermachie SAMAVAR from your photographs, all of which are capitivating.An excellent post.

  2. How can you tell if a table lamp is an authentic jaffer ali hand crafted piece?

  3. we are manufacturers of kashmiri papier machie items ..............very authentic designs and products

  4. Thanks for sharing a such wonderful Information. For more Paper Mache visit :- website also offers a vast variety of exclusive goodies appeasing the men and women closets with cosy Cashmere Jackets, or entrancing Pashmina shawls, propounds for Home décor including the Paper Mache, Walnut Wood and other handicrafts and artefacts and adds opulence to the Gourmet sensualising the taste buds with Walnuts, Apricots, Saffron, and many more epicurean ingredients.


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