Arunachal Pradesh: 1000-Yrs-Old Paper-Making By Monpa Tribe Offers Alternative To Wood-Based Industry

Image Credit- Twitter/ Pema Khandu, Unsplash 

The Logical Indian Crew

Arunachal Pradesh: 1000-Yrs-Old Paper-Making By Monpa Tribe Offers Alternative To Wood-Based Industry

Wood-based paper production leads to deforestation, waste generation, and untreated sludge contaminating water bodies. In contrast, the indigenous process of paper-making by the Monpa tribe works as an alternative as it uses non-wood fibres.

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The traditional hand-made paper-making process of the Monpa tribe belonging to Arunachal Pradesh got recognition as an alternative to the extensive wood-based paper industry. It was featured in a study published in the journal Frontiers.

Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu, tweeted, "I am so proud to note that the age-old practice of paper-making by Monpa tribe from the bark of a plant Daphne papyracea (known as the paper plant), has been scientifically documented in a prestigious journal."

Cultural Significance Of The Paper Plant

The Monpa hand-made paper has been traced back to around 1000 years ago as it had been a massive part of the local culture in Tawang, AP. It was their most significant source of employment, and the production level was high as it used to send its paper to countries like Bhutan, Tibet, Thailand, Japan, etc.

However, with the entry of cheap Chinese paper, production in the Tawang region declined. Though the Monpa tribe's paper-making was revived in 1994, people could not ignore the geographical disadvantage of Tawang as it was a hilly area.

Environment-Friendly Alternative

The paper industry usually makes paper from wood, one of the most significant contributors to a country's economy. However, the growing demand for paper has led to ecological hazards through deforestation, high energy consumption, and vast amounts of waste thrown into water bodies, degrading the environment.

The research paper titled 'Glycome Profiling and Bioprospecting Potential of the Himalayan Buddhist Handmade Paper of Tawang Region of Arunachal Pradesh' was published on May 23, 2022.

The researchers hypothesised that the particular paper-making had the potential to become a good source of paper that does not harm the environment drastically.

Process Of Paper-Making

Non-wood fibres are plant cellulose, most times the soft bark of the plants. These cellulose are further developed into the paper by scraping the outer layer of the bark, drying it for some days, and then boiling it in ash water to make it soft and beat it into a pulp and kill all bacteria.

The pulp is then fitted into bamboo nets or frames, uniformly spread, and then dried for two to three hours. Other non-wood fibres include hemp, bamboo, jute, sugarcane, etc.

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Writer : Mrinalini Kaushik
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Editor : Shiva Chaudhary
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Creatives : Shiva Chaudhary