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Jorhat craftsman adds to gem glitter

- Asifur Rahman to train artisans in Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Kashmir

Jorhat, Jan. 7: His handmade paper jewellery is set to glitter from north to south of the country.

Asifur Rahman, a master craftsman of this form of art, from Cinnamara in Jorhat, will soon train people in Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Kashmir in the next two months.

However, the competition that he might face after he imparts training in these three states does not fluster him. “The more the competition, the better the product and diversity,” said the innovative.

Rahman’s designs and wide array of ornaments caught the eye of many at the Saras Mela in Hyderabad in October last year.

“I trained quite a few people free of cost right there. I was then approached by their Nabard assistant general manager Jyothi Srinivas, who arranged a training programme at Kurnool from December 16 but because of my son’s exams I had to defer the date,” he added.

“I was also approached by a person from Uttarakhand, Varun, and one from Kashmir, Irfan Ali. But these programmes are yet to be finalised,” he said.

Kashmir already has a papier-mâché or paper-mache industry. Then why would someone from that state want to train in handmade paper craft? Rahman explained that the processes were different. Paper-mache entails the melting of the paper and then making articles with the help of moulds. He makes the products like boxes and bags directly with handmade paper and moulds from the handmade paper for ornaments. However, while products made of paper mache are smooth like glass, items made of handmade paper have a grainy texture.

“I had tried my hand at paper-mache but was not quite successful. Maybe I can also learn something from them. Moreover, I have now branched into making small masks, using this technique to my advantage,” Rahman said.

The competition does not worry him. “Many of those making jewellery from handmade paper do not maintain quality. Customers who appreciate quality will obviously prefer my products, whatever the cost,” he said.

Though many have helped him establish his business, Rahman is indebted to Jorhat superintendent of police Sanjukta Parasor for drawing the notice of a wider clientele. She commissioned 100 mementos, which she presented at an Assam police meet. The plaques had the Ashoka pillar emblem with an Assamese japi embossed on top of a six-inch diameter plate. One of these was given to additional deputy-general of police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta through whom he came into contact with the Asom Satra Mahasabha.

The apex body of the xatras, in turn, ordered 120 Garuda asanas and since then he has fulfilled many such orders.

At present Rahman is working with waste products. Torn cloth, withered leaves, broken earthen piggy banks have all become materials for his creations.