The 1000-year old heritage art – the Monpa Handmade Paper of Arunachal Pradesh – which was driven to the extinction, has come to life once again, with the committed efforts of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
About Monpa Paper
- The fine-textured handmade paper, which is called Mon Shugu in the local dialect, is integral to the vibrant culture of the local tribes in Tawang.
- The paper has great historic and religious significance as it is the paper used for writing Buddhist scriptures and hymns in monasteries. The Monpa handmade paper, will be made from the bark of a local tree called Shugu Sheng, which has medicinal values too. Hence availability of raw material is not be a problem.
- Monpa Handmade paper is made from the bark of tree Shugu Sheng grown locally in Tawang and is identified by its distinctive translucent fibrous texture. The paper is weightless but its natural fibers add great tensile strength to this paper making it apt for various art works.
- Monpa handmade paper has been used for writing Buddhist scriptures, manuscripts and for making prayer flags. Writing on this paper is also known to be tamper-proof. The Monpa Handmade paper industry set up in Tawang aims at engaging the local youths with this art professionally and earn.
How is it Produced?
To make Mon Shugu, the inner fibrous bark of the Shugu Sheng shrub (Daphne papyracea) is dried, boiled with a solution of ash, made into pulp and then cut into sheets of paper. The process of making this paper is entirely organic with no chemical additives. This naturally processed paper possesses strong tensile strength and is durable as well.
It has been observed that the harvesting of the bark starts from March to April and continues till December before flowering and fruiting. During the reproductive stage, people do not harvest it, keeping in mind that there should be no disturbance in natural regeneration and also because there are other alternate resources. Bark harvested during the earlier part of a year is used for paper-making the rest of the year. To make 1-1.5 kilo of bark about four to five plants are required but it varies with the size of the plant
Back then, such was the scale of production that Monpas used to sell these papers to countries like Tibet, Bhutan ,Thailanand and Japan as no paper making industry existed in these countries at that time. However, the local industry gradually began declining and the indigenous handmade paper was taken over by inferior Chinese paper.
An attempt for the revival of the this handmade paper industry was made in 1994 but failed as it was a mountainous task owing to various geographical challenges in Tawang.
The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is a statutory body formed in April 1957 (During 2nd Five Year plan)(as per an RTI) by the Government of India, under the Act of Parliament, ‘Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956’. It is an apex organisation under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, with regard to khadi and village industries within India, which seeks to – “plan, promote, facilitate, organise and assist in the establishment and development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development wherever necessary