The 700-Year-Old Craft Of Handmade Paper In Kagzipura

This small town in Maharashtra still holds on to a 700-year-old handmade paper tradition
The art of handcrafted paper goes back centuries                                                     Credit Shutterstock
The art of handcrafted paper goes back centuries Credit Shutterstock

Kagzipura is located in Aurangabad district, Maharashtra. It lies on the way between Daulatabad Fort and Ellora Caves in Khuldabad. The small town has held on to the centuries-old legacy of papermaking, which dates back to the pre-Mughal era. The cottage industry of this sustainable and local craft produces beautiful paper bags and other products like notebooks, folders, coasters, frames, and more. The community of artisans is known as kagzis (from the word kagaz, meaning paper).

The Roots

The ancestors of the craftspeople in Kagzipura apparently came with the entourage of Muhammed Bin Tughlaq when the latter decided to shift the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. Although the capital shifted back to Delhi, these families stayed, and their township took the name of Kagzipura.

The handmade papermaking industry is said to have started here somewhere between the 12th and 14th centuries. It was brought in to support the administration of the Deccan capital, Daulatabad. During the Mughal period, farmans, manuscripts, and important documents were handwritten on Kagzipura paper. The handmade paper sheets were quite big, more than six feet sometimes and had a good shelf life. Kagzipura became well known when the Mughals started supplying the paper to the world. 

Making The Paper

To make this durable paper, no trees were cut. The Kagzis would use old pieces of cloth and cotton. They would soak them in water. These were mixed into a paste, pressed, and dried using different processes. They would create a stunningly diverse variety using this method. It is said that they used cotton and bamboo pulp to make paper for the Quran. 

A Revival

In order to preserve and develop the skill and knowledge of papermaking that have been passed down through generations, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has held some workshops at Kagzipura. Kagzipura handcrafted paper restoration is an initiative of INTACH wherein they have roped in organisations like TARA (Technology and Action for Rural Advancement) to train artisans and revive the craft. Handmade paper from Kagzipura is also available to buy at the INTACH Aurangabad office.

Getting There

Kagzipura is located around 280 km from Mumbai.&nbspThe nearest town/city to Kagzipura is Khuldabad (4.2 km).

Nearest railhead&nbspDaulatabad (6.6 km). 

Nearest airport Aurangabad (22.4 km).

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