Papier Mache, a craft practiced since time immemorial, finds expression in varied forms. In Madhya Pradesh, the main centre for papier mache is Ujjain, but it is also practiced in Gwalior, Bhopal and Ratlam also. The Nagvanshi community, which makes mud toys and dolls, is also engaged in making of
papier mache articles.
The traditional expression of this craft was the creation of ornate articles like vases, figurines and icons. Today,
craftspersons in Bhopal and Gwalior make statues, birds, animals and decorative panels. In Ujjain, the craft of papier mache brings to life different kinds of splendidly crafted birds with the artisans using natural colours to create exact replicas of living birds. Presently, the
craftspersons are also experimenting with ways of creating decorative pottery and furniture in
However, these crafts are not the monopoly of Gwalior alone. Colored
lacquerware, for instance, is also produced at a number of other centers such as
Ratlam, Rewa, Sheopur and Bhopal. Rag dolls are crafted at
Khandwa, Indore and Burhanpur. Striking papier-mâché articles are made at Indore, Ujjain and a few more centers. In addition to crafts that are common to a number of specialized centers, there are others that are the monopoly of a particular area and there are still others where craftsmen lend to their work a highly distinctive touch.