The art of handmade paper is quite ancient and is one of the most developed crafts of the Monpas of Tawang District, being an integral part of their local customs and culture. As the handmade paper-making industry existed many years back, its importance in the local economy is quite evident from the fact that Monpas used to sell and export it to the neighboring countries like Tibet, Bhutan and areas in the neighboring district of West Kameng, Arunachal Pradesh. During those days, the local artisans used to travel to Tsona and Lhasa in Tibet, Sakteng-Merak and Tashi Gang in Bhutan, Dirang, Bomdilla, Domkho-Morshing and Kalaktang in West Kameng District, to sell the handmade paper locally known as Mon-Shug. In fact, all the Buddhist religious texts, which came from Tibet, were written on this paper, as no handmade paper making industry existed in Tibet during that period.
The locally manufactured handmade paper (Mon-Shug) is made from a local tree called ‘Shug-Sheng” (Daphnie Paperacia), it is widely used in religious ceremonies throughout Buddhist belts and also for printing religious texts called “Pe-Cha“, flags called “Phann“, and as scrolls inside the prayer wheels (Mani) etc. The cost of Mon-Shug ranges from Rs. 50 to 60 per bundle depending upon the quality. A bundle of Mon-Shug consists of 10 sheets of paper and is locally known as “Chideb”.
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