By Lokendra Singh
Sanganer (Jaipur), Jan.10 : Not many may know but a tiny town near Jaipur has today earned a big name for itself for being a home to the best ever handmade paper in the world, courtesy the highly skilled community of "Kagzi".
The fact that Kagzis' artistry rolls out paper worth over a billion (rupees 100 crores) rupees every year speaks volumes about the significance of this handmade paper industry of Rajasthan's Sanganer town, 45 kilometres off Jaipur, the State capital.
Erstwhile King Sawai Man Singh, who ruled Jaipur during the 17th century, may have never thought that a cottage industry which he patronised would be flourishing even after 400 years.
For over four centuries, members of a community which incidentally bears the name Kagzi (made of paper), have kept alive their ancestral skill and artistic profession of making handmade paper.
The product rolled out by the Kagzis is considered to be the best handmade paper in the world.
"There are about 70 to 75 industries and their total production must be running in crores. Goods worth an estimated rupees 50 crores is being exported and of nearly same amount is being consumed by the domestic market," said Salim Kagzi, Chairman, Handmade Paper and Board Industries Association.
The durability of handmade paper as compared to the mill paper is also longer. The good condition of thousands centuries old manuscripts and other historical documents which one may find at various archives around the world prove this.
"The difference is that the mill paper does not have long durability and starts tearing after some time while the handmade paper can be used for different purposes. Its look is also different. It stays strong and lasts longer. If you want to preserve a document for a longer period, one should use handmade paper," said Alim Kagzi, a manufacturer of handmade paper.
Handmade paper is in great demand in countries like USA and France, which import handmade paper worth over rupees 50 crores (half a billion) from Sanganer alone.
Handmade paper's demand in the global market lies in the fact that it is eco-friendly and easy qualities in recycling it.
Tourists arranging their tours form Jaipur are taken to witness how over 10,000 Kagazis are rolling out the durable and eco-friendly paper.