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Papier Mache

Papier Mache: Art and Craft of Orissa

Papier Mache skill has been creatively practiced by crafts persons from all over Orissa for long. Masks, hand bags, toys are produced out of specially made papers in Orissa that are not only beautiful but strong and durable as well.

Orissa has a history of folk theatre also known as Jatra in local parlance. The characters of these Jatras are made of wood and vividly painted. They are dressed according to the characters played by them and are controlled by strings. Based on the characterizations, masks are used by the artists. These masks are made of wood, sholapith and papier mache. This has given rise to the art of making masks from special paper. Most artisans for this craft are located in and around Puri.

An elaborate procedure is followed to make papers for these items. Paper, waste cloth and different kinds of natural fibers are soaked and beaten into pulp. They are then mixed with a variety of seeds and gums for strength and as protection from termites. Special clays and bio-wastes are added for body and reinforcement. The entire process results in a medium so malleable that it requires skill to be molded into countless forms. Items like masks, toys and caps generate a lot of interest in the market.

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