Height: 49 3/4 inches, 126.5 cm
Width: 12 inches, 30.5 cm

Papier-mâché fan

India, Kashmir, circa 1875

A lacquered papier-mâché fan in the shape of a heart with a long handle. Both sides of the fan are painted in fine detail with scenes from the Ramayana. One side shows Krishna and Lakshmi under nagas surrounded by various figures on a finely painted background of naturalistic flowers and leaves in rich colours. This scene is bordered by a continuous design of stylised flowers and leaves on a green background.  The reverse side shows a variety of demons and mythical animals. The long handle is painted with a similar design with numerous figures and flowers. The surface is covered in a layer of clear lacquer.

The area of Kashmir and particularly its capital Srinagar were well known in the 19th century for the manufacture of high quality lacquered papier-mâché work.  Made for domestic use and for export, a wide range of objects such as candlesticks, pen-cases, boxes and flasks was produced. The tradition of papier-mâché was introduced from abroad and probably originates in China. Similar examples of papier.mâché fans can be found in the Khalili collection, London 1 and The Museum für Lackkunst in Münster. 2 The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic, which follows Prince Rama’s quest to rescue his beloved wife Sita from the clutches of Ravana with the help of an army of monkeys. One of the most important literary works of ancient India, it has greatly influenced art and culture in the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia.

  1. Khalili, N.D., Robinson, B.W. and Stanley, T.; Lacquer of the Islamic Lands, the Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London, 1996
  2. Neumann, R. (ed), Aus 1001 Nacht, Islamische Lackkunst in deutschen Museen und Bibliotheken, Münster 2009, p. 169, no. 82