Height: 10 3/4 inches, 27 cm
Width: 13 3/4 inches, 35 cm

Papier-mâché stationery cabinet

India, Kashmir, 19th century

A papier-mâché document box. The lid is steeply tilted, opens in the centre and is hinged on either side. The exterior is richly painted in colours on a predominantly white back.ground and heightened in gold. The top has a geometric design with a central star and emblems of varying shapes forming a flower.  The petals of the flower are filled with intricate floral designs, all between dense floral borders. Variations of this design are painted on the sides and back of the box. The inside of the box consists of several compartments to hold letters and pens, which are densely decorated with a complex design of scrolling flowers and birds using rich colours. The painted surfaces are 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 both for domestic use and for export, a wide range of objects such as candlesticks, pen-cases, boxes and flasks was produced.  The tradition of producing papier-mâché objects was popular in Persia and probably originates in China. Several examples of Persian papier-mâché can be found in the Khalili collection, London.1 The painted decoration combines Hindu, Mughal and Persian influences.

  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