Tucked away in a village near Jaipur is the world's largest center of hand-made paper. India's diversity expands from its people, cultures, languages, and topographies to the crafts sector, in abundance. A wide range of raw materials, such as bamboo, wood grass, rice and wheat straw, jute, rags and waste paper are made available for paper and board making. The Indian pulp and paper industry has recently experienced enormous growth, coupled with consolidation due to the value addition activities like embossing embroidery etc. on handmade paper, and Sanganer today is one of the most popular clusters for the same.

Usage

Papermaking can be traced to about ad 105, when Tsa'I Lun, an official attached to the Imperial court of China, created a sheet of paper using mulberry and other bast fibers along with fishnets, old rags, and hemp waste. In its slow travel westward, the art of papermaking reached Samarkand, in Central Asia, in 751; and in 793 the first paper was made in Baghdad during the time of HārÅ«n ar-RashÄ«d, with the golden age of Islamic culture that brought papermaking to the frontiers of Europe. By the 14th century a number of paper mills existed in Europe, particularly in Spain, Italy, France, and Germany. The invention of printing in the 1450s brought a vastly increased demand for paper. Through the 18th century the papermaking process remained essentially unchanged, with linen and cotton rags furnishing the basic raw materials. Paper mills were increasingly plagued by shortages; in the 18th century they even advertised and solicited publicly for rags. It was evident that a process for utilizing a more abundant material was needed. In 1800 a book was published that launched development of practical methods for manufacturing paper from wood pulp and other vegetable pulps. Several major pulping processes were gradually developed that relieved the paper industry of dependency upon cotton and linen rags and made modern large-scale production possible. These developments followed two distinct pathways. In one, fibers and fiber fragments were separated from the wood structure by mechanical means; and in the other, the wood was exposed to chemical solutions that dissolved and removed lignin and other wood components, leaving cellulose fiber behind. Made by mechanical methods, ground wood pulp contains all the components of wood and thus is not suitable for papers in which high whiteness and permanence are required. Chemical wood pulps such as soda and sulfite pulp (described below) are used when high brightness, strength, and permanence are required. Ground wood pulp was first made in Germany in 1840, but the process did not come into extensive use until about 1870. Soda pulp was first manufactured from wood in 1852 in England, and in 1867 a patent was issued in the United States for the sulfite pulping process. A sheet of paper composed only of cellulosic fibers ("waterleaf") is water absorbent. Hence, water-based inks and other aqueous liquids will penetrate and spread in it. Impregnation of the paper with various substances that retard such wetting and penetration is called sizing.

Significance

Handmade paper is an ancient art and is thought to have come to India from the Northwestern parts. Mahatma Gandhi revived it during the Swadeshi movement. Handmade paper can be made using a bewildering variety of natural materials and dyes as well as a number of finishing techniques. This is what makes handmade papermaking more an art than an industrial process. The paper maker lends to each sheet and variety of paper his very own little something: the technique of dyeing the pulp, adding the mottling substance, drawing out the sheet, and lending it a texture. Owing to its natural unprocessed fiber content, handmade paper is stronger, has a longer life, artistic feel and an elegant natural look. Handmade paper today is made by recycling agricultural wastes like bagasse, cotton rags, straw, jute, wool, etc., which makes it a bio-degradable and therefore environment-friendly product.

Myths & Legends

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History

The history of paper dates back to the history of human culture and civilization. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans wrote on "Papyrus-, a paper -“ like material. Today's kind of paper was first developed and used in China. Since its birth, the paper was the most important carrier of information in the past. Growth of population and need to transfer the knowledge, education and information to the society at large were the forcing factors for stupendous increase in the production of paper. In former times paper was a valuable product and paper making an art -“ that was often kept secret because of the outstanding advantages of the product. -¨The handmade paper making in India goes as far back as to the 3rd century BC. Handmade papermaking is a traditional art that has been practiced by a particular class of people for generations together. This art has been passed on from one generation of craftsmen to another. These craftsmen are known as "Kagzi's". Their name is derived from the Urdu word 'kavas', which means paper and spread to Sialkot [now in Pakistan], Gujarat, Maharashtra and Jaipur. The size of this community has dwindled over the years. Of these, the only surviving settlement of Kagzis today is at Sanganer where a section of this community settled thousands of years ago. They claimed that they were originally from Turkey and from there moved to China and then finally settled in India. . Sanganer is blessed with water and open spaces that are essential for papermaking. From here the Kagzis enjoyed patronage of the royal court of Sawai Man Singh and his successors. There is a small settlement of 'Kagzi's' in Sanganer near Jaipur, where a section of this community settled thousands of years ago. They claimed that they were originally from Turkey and from there moved to China and then finally settled in India. When the Uzbek, Ghiasuddin Babur finally defeated Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat in 1456, he was in addition to being a conqueror, a man with a vision for a grand empire. His hordes were not all armed soldiers. Bringing up the rear was a team of scholars, craftsmen, designers and theologists. Among these were a few papermakers drawn from Turkey. Their charter was to produce paper and parchments for the Moghul court. [Not to be asserted, but was this the moment paper was introduced India, as an alternative to the traditional palm leaf and fabric? Fast forward to Akbar's times. The small band of paper-makers had developed into a guild, restricted to those born into the clan. In the 16th century the then ruler of Amber, Raja Man Singh brought the Kagzis to Sanganer and settled them on the bank of the river Saraswati, where clean water was easily available. Thus the town emerged as one of the biggest paper producing centers in north India. -¨-¨Under the British handmade paper received a serious setback as the British encouraged the import of mill-made paper from the Western countries. By the 1930s there were only a handful of people from this community practicing their traditional trade. At this point, Mahatma Gandhi provided them with the much-needed support by buying handmade paper in bulk for his Ashram and other associates. After independence, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) included handmade paper in the list of crafts to be promoted. Over the years the handmade paper industry has grown slowly but steadily and is today a major player in the world market, exporting a major portion of its production.

Design

There is a wide range of hand made paper and paper products that are of superior quality and is 100% wood free. Products are often highly customized and are made as per the specific needs of customers. The products are absolutely unique and finding a match is not possible. The products that exist majorly on the list among the Sanganer paper makers include:  

- Handmade floral paper: These handmade eco-friendly papers are available in a variety of patterns. The beautiful designs are an example of expert craftsmanship. Different petal and paper combinations are ideal for gift-wrapping, books, albums etc. Available at competitive prices these papers are available in different sizes. These exclusive papers are often custom made as per the requirement of the customer.  

- Handmade Crocodile Paper These biodegradable, crocodile skin paper, have a unique texture that is a reminiscent of rough leather. Its stiff structure can be used for various binding purposes. These unique papers are cut, mixed, molded and dried by hand. Available in vivid colors, these smooth textured crocodile papers are extensively used for art and craft purposes. The can be glued, stamped or screen-printed to give a durable and exquisite look to any item.  

- Handmade Batik Paper: The array of Batik Papers, are an exclusive creation of explicit colors done by hand. These artistic and creative handmade batik paper are available in a variety of elaborate designs and colors. Use of good quality and expert craftsmanship provide a look of marvel & ecstasy to the range. The wide assortment of bold colors and hand painted designs, display vivid combinations and bright pictures.

- Handmade Embossed Paper: Embossed handmade papers are available in different sizes and thickness and are suitable for notebooks, gift boxes, folders, wallpaper, pen stands, etc. The pattern and color of these embossed are vibrant and alluring. These attractive eco-friendly papers create artistic decorative paper products that suit the contemporary style.   

- Handmade Dew Paper: These papers are biodegradable and can be recycled. Dewdrop handmade paper does not brittle even after aging and have a very long life. Available in vivid, exotic patterns and different thickness, these fabulous papers are perfect for handmade paper crafts, scrap books, invitations and announcements, cards, lampshades etc.  

- Handmade Leather Paper: Screen Print Papers, handmade are elegant and attractive handmade papers used for all sorts of craft projects. These eco-friendly papers are ideal for gift-wrapping paper, lampshades, book covers, album covers and are widely used in modern graphics. Available in a variety of colors and patterns these papers can also be customized on the basis of graphics, prints & vibrant colors.   
- Handmade Screen Print Paper: Screen Print Papers, handmade are elegant and attractive handmade papers used for all sorts of craft projects. These eco-friendly papers are ideal for gift-wrapping paper, lampshades, book covers, album covers and are widely used in modern graphics. Available in a variety of colors and patterns these papers can also be customized on the basis of graphics, prints & vibrant colors.

- Handmade Paper Note book Intricate designs and environment friendly material, available in different sizes, colour and patterns handmade paper notebooks today are a treat for not only students but also working professionals and have become a style statement in itself. These notebooks are light in weight and easy to carry.   

- Handmade Paper Stationery Highly functional yet decorative, eco-friendly handmade stationary collection is suitable for corporate gifting as well as personal usage. This collection is available in different designs, colors and patterns. High on quality, these items have been aesthetically designed to give an elegant look to the whole range. Visually appealing and functionally superior, these stationary items can be availed in customized requirements.   

- Handmade bags These spacious bags, that are available in different shapes and sizes are well crafted with handle cords are an idle option for today's markets where plastic is getting banned, slowly and steadily.      

- Handmade boxes Ranges of boxes are available in different shapes, sizes, colors, patterns etc. These spacious boxes are available in intricate designs and patterns that make them extremely captivating. These boxes are mostly customized as per client's requirement.   

- Handmade photo frames These classic photo frames are available in contemporary as well classic designs, which marks a taste of exclusivity. Durable quality are available in a variety of designs and patterns, they are perfect as both gift items as well as personal use.   

- Handmade paper albums These classic photo albums are available in contemporary as well classic designs, which marks a taste of exclusivity. Durable quality are available in a variety of designs and patterns, they are perfect as both gift items as well as personal use.   

Challenges

The Indian handmade paper industry has been identified as one of the village industry and the industry has seen significant growth in last one decade because of improved demand not only on national level but also at the international arena. As per estimates, there are nearly more than 450 handmade paper units scattered all over India producing nearly 50,000 tons of handmade paper & board. The Indian handmade paper industry had grown remarkably in the recent past wherein the production of handmade paper industry has reached to a turnover of Rs 250 crores. -¨Due to increased literacy, industrialization and modernization, the per capita consumption of the paper and paperboard has increased remarkably from 4.5 kg in the year 2000 to nearly 6.5 kg in the recent past. This industry provides employment to about 10,000 people and most of them are situated in the rural areas. -¨Although, the per capita consumption of paper and paper board in India is low compared to the developed countries like US (350 kg), China (58 kg), Japan (225 kg) and world average 55 kilograms however the total quantity of paper produced in India is quite significant with a total production of nearly 70 lakh tons per annum. -¨Indian handmade paper industry contributes to less than 0.5 % of the total country's production of paper and paper board till the year 2005-06 and this share has recently increased to nearly 0.7% in the recent year since the production of handmade paper which was nearly 25,000 tons in the year 2005-06 now stands at nearly 50,000 tons. Although, the country is self sufficient in the manufacturing of handmade paper & board, however, a little quantity of specialty paper are imported.

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