On the Trail of Indian Handmade Paper

On the Trail of Indian Handmade Paper
At a handmade paper factory in Rajasthan Photo Credit: mark stephens photography /

Learn how to create handmade paper at this two-day workshop that also focuses on history of India’s traditional handmade paper industry

Uttara Gangopadhyay
August 03 , 2020
03 Min Read

Did you know that Sanganer, a village near Jaipur (Rajasthan), famous for its block-printed textiles, is also home to a traditional craft of India? Handmade paper.

It is believed that the Delhi Sultanate introduced the craft to India, which was later introduced to Sanganer by Raja Man Singh. The Muslim community which has been making the paper for centuries is known as Kagzi (from the word Kagaz).


According to Mohammad Hussain Kagzi from Sanganer, their ancestors arrived in India from Bukhara via China. Interestingly, there is a small town called Kagzipura near Aurangabad (Maharashtra), which is also home albeit to a much smaller community. They apparently came with the entourage of Muhammed Bin Tughlaq, when the latter decided to shift capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. Although the capital shifted back to Delhi, these families stayed back, and their township took the name of Kagzipura.

The advent of machine made paper however dealt a crippling blow to this traditional craft. Only a renewed interest in the craft and use of the handmade paper for market-able products are likely to ensure the survival of the craft and the community.

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A post shared by Radha Pandey (@pandey.radha) on Feb 4, 2019 at 9:53pm PST

Those who are interested to know more about the craft, the community and why it is relevant today, may join an upcoming two-day workshop to be led by artist Radha Pandey. A papermaker and letterpress printer, Pandey earned her MFA in Book Arts from the University of Iowa Center for the Book where she studied Letterpress Printing, Bookbinding and Papermaking with focus on Indo-Islamic Paper Making techniques.

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A post shared by Radha Pandey (@pandey.radha) on Sep 19, 2018 at 9:54pm PDT

The workshop is being organised by India Print Maker House (IPMH) in collaboration with Pandey on August 13 and 14 (8 to 10pm). On the first day, there will be a talk on the traditional papermaking process as well as contemporary practices in India, a case study of the Hussain Kagzi family and how papermaking changed under the British rule. On the second day, the traditional technique of making paper will be demonstrated along with surface finishing techniques, etc.

For prior registration and more details, you have to email the organisers.

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