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The thought that the paper one throws away might have been used to make this beauty leaves one in wonder about the ingenuity of artisans and their ability to transform waste material into art. Truly, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It just needs some perspective.
An art born in China around 105 A.D. It is apt that the craft was developed by the people that invented paper itself.
Papier Mâché founds its way into India after it had spread to Italy and Persia from China. After being introduced into modern day Kashmir, the art spread to every part of India due to its ease in accessibility to raw materials and its vast range of application, ranging from making masks to conceiving any shape possible.
Today, we look at the papier mâché of Odisha. The art has been integrated into the local culture and tradition seamlessly and now is actively practised all over Odisha.
The material required is found everywhere. Paper and waste cloth are abundant and one can use various natural fibres from trees. These materials gathered by hand are first soaked thoroughly in water. Once that process is complete, the water soaked fibres are turned into pulp. The pulp is mixed with crushed seeds and the resin or gum of trees to make it durable and save it from pest, especially termites. Special clays such as Fuller’s Earth (multaani mitti) and even bio-waste is to increase the strength of the papier mâché. The easily pliable dough like substance is now ready to be put into any mould imaginable. Once the mould has dried, the artist smooths the papier mâché structure by either filing it or adding a thin layer of clay.