MeetPaper: Canadian organisation establishes direct-to-consumer chain for Kashmir’s Papier Mâché artists

MeetPaper: Canadian organisation establishes direct-to-consumer chain for Kashmir’s Papier Mâché artists


Srinagar, Mar 23: Papier Mâché artists have a reason to smile as a Canadian organisation has established a direct-to-consumer chain to end the middleman menace and push exports.

MeetPaper showcases the exquisite craftsmanship of Kashmiri artists to international audiences and ensures that the profits are returned to the creators themselves.

MeetPaper’s founders, Sanjay Suri, Prateeksha Pathak, and Shravan Suri, visited the valley recently to distribute the first profit tranche to the local artists.

This gesture marked a significant step in supporting the artists and preserving the dying art of Papier Mâché.

During their visit, the MeetPaper team met Syed Aijaz and Akhtar Mir, two ace artisans of Kashmir.

Aijaz, a President’s Award-winning artist, had faced financial hardships during the pandemic, compelling him to drive an autorickshaw to support his family.

“This is a great initiative by MeetPaper to revive the dying craft,” said Aijaz.

Papier Mâché is a unique Kashmiri craft that involves the use of paper pulp to create beautiful artefacts. While the artefacts elicit amazement from buyers locally and outside, the centuries-old craft is dying a slow death due to various reasons.

Sanjay Suri said MeetPaper’s initiative is the first of its kind to address this disparity, ensuring that the artists receive the true worth of their art.

“During our visit, the artists shared their struggles, revealing how their creations were often sold at inflated prices without them receiving fair compensation,” he said.

MeetPaper’s visit also included discussions on further support for the artists, including optical medical assistance, highlighting the organisation’s commitment to the well-being of the artisans beyond financial aid.

“As MeetPaper continues to bridge the gap between Kashmiri artists and the global market, it stands as a testament to the power of ethical entrepreneurship and the impact it can have on preserving cultural heritage and uplifting communities,” Suri said.

“By buying directly from the artists and managing the export, shipping, and selling processes, MeetPaper creates a sustainable ecosystem that benefits the artists and promotes their livelihood,” he added.

Prateeksha said they started this social enterprise after reading news stories about how artisans struggled to make ends meet, particularly during and after COVID-19.

“We learned that artisans who had been bestowed with national and state awards for their craft were forced to engage in alternate labour, including driving autorickshaws, to survive. These episodes inspired us to create a platform where we purchase paper mache handicrafts directly from artisans, sell them at different venues, and return profits to the artisans. Recently, we completed a year and returned to the Valley to distribute all our profits among artisans who joined us and supported us when we began,” she said.

“We have started with a few artisans. We hope to gradually increase our network by collaborating with more artists and creating new avenues to promote Kashmiri art. We resolve to keep our efforts going to ensure our artisans are supported and these art forms receive their due attention internationally,” she added.


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