The credits of inventing paper is gained by Chinese during Han dynasty of 2nd century AD. They in the later days developed the papier mache pulp. This technique spread to Arabs in Samarkand during the Chinese-Persian war in the 8th century. In the due course of time the technique of making papier mache pulp spread to Morocco and in 10th century it spread to France and Germany. Italians also acquired the knowledge of this technique and from Italy it spread to India and Persia. During 18th and 19th century craftsmen of Persia started producing plates, mirror cases, toys and pencil boxes using the technique of paper mache. These items were also produced by Indians for the decorative purpose by designing the small flowers and foliage in the Florentine style. Such designs were possibly introduced during the time of building ‘Taj Mahal’ in 17th century.
Papier mache was used as a commercial medium in the mid of 17th century for the first time by the people of France. They were inspired by Chinese and Japanese imports of the paper mache artifacts, to do so. Later in 1840s papier mache furniture became popular in France and in England, who were the chief producers of the finest pieces of paper mache furniture ever made. French also prepared the dolls heads using papier mache technique during 16th century and in the 18th century this idea spread across Europe to Germany and England.
The original term ‘papier mache’ means crunched paper but it is also used for referring the objects that are made of different types of paper construction including paper pulp, paper strips and paper sheets. It is spelled in many ways ranging from ‘papier mache’, ‘papier machie’ etc. The term paper mache is also used for the three dimensional objects that has a paper core. The art of making papier mache objects cherished worldwide for its unique sense of beauty and careful craftsmanship. Papier mache is an amusing and nice way to sculpt anything. It is the paper pulp mixed with glue (flour and water) that is moulded and dried to prepare the hard material which is later enameled for the decorative purpose. Mughal miniatures are one of the great inspirations for the Indian modern papier mache artists. Initially this art was introduced to Kashmir in India and Kashmiri papier mache artists used this technique for creating pen cases and pencil boxes. In later eighteenth – nineteenth century apart from Kashmir it spread to Rajasthan, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and other states of the country.
To prepare the three-dimensional sculpture and temporary sculptures like Carnival floats Paper mache technique is used for these large products. But for preparing these huge sculptures metal, wood and metal wires are used as the basic structure on which the paper mache is covered all around. Then they are sanded completely and painted to make it look attractive. These floats are often huge and the themes for these floats usually comprises of numerous props, characters and elements that are very scenic. These carnival floats accommodates masses of people and the mechanisms in them that also have movable parts and facial features and limbs of the character.
Italian float makers are often recognized as the best in the world for preparing the paper mache carnival floats.
But in contemporary world papier mache technique is used by the professional artists for creating the marvelous art works choosing papier mache as their chosen medium. Many schools and art colleges use papier mache as their friendly medium for art and design.