Papier mache bottle from Kashmir

Contributed by Martin_Malvern

Papier mache bottle from Kashmir

This bottle seems to capture many of the cross-currents in culture and trade between Europe and South Asia. It is made of papier mache, a Kashmiri speciality, and thickly painted with flowers and patterns in an Indo-Persian style. The gul motif on the neck of the vessel is typical of Kashmiri ornament, but was borrowed (some might say stolen) by the British cotton manufacturing industry, and became synomymous, as Paisley Pattern, with the Scottish spinning mills. This act of industrial and colonial agression wrought havoc on South Asian cotton production. The bottle was brought back to England in the 1920s, although I think it is probably a bit older than that. It had been given to my mother as a present on her 4th birthday, which she celebrated in Pune, in North India. It was her best birthday party, and included jugglers and magicians; never to be forgotten.

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