MONPA Arunachal Pradesh

Some of the finest paper in the world is still made in the remote villages of hilly Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh, whose Buddhist Monpa and Sherdukpan tribes are skilled artists. Handmade paper for their Bhodi scripts and tangkhas (paintings) is prepared from the pulp of the shugu sheng shrub. Many such manuscripts and paintings can still be seen at the Tawang monastery and its gompas.

The process: Unlike factory made paper, this paper is tough and doesn't succumb easily to insects or moisture. A paste, made from local gum, wild spice yerr and animal klih (bitter gall bladder that repels fungus) glues the papers together and makes them waterproof. To write on them, the people make ink from soot carbon from pinewood lamps (collected in an earthen pot kept over the flame). Mixed with castor sugar, gum, roasted barley and water, the soot is left for a week before preparing the ink. The Monpas also make a simple pen from sik, a species of small bamboo found in nearby Rahung