Tamil Nadu Handicrafts

Paper mache is the oldest form of craft for making dolls which originated in China. Later it was spread throughout Asian countries. Paper mache dolls are meant for its characteristic- lightweight and sturdy.Paper mache is a traditional handicraft where the papers are mashed into a paste to make dolls and toys. To prepare these dolls Sunlight plays a major role. The crafter starts his work morning by 6 am and completes it by the time of sunset. Waste papers are ground like a flour and made into dough using adhesive agents. These dolls are very common during Durga Puja festival.  People also started buying paper mache dolls along with clay dolls for Golu. Let’s see in detail how these dolls are made.

Raw material:

  • Paper Mache Dough
  • Mould
  • Cement Packing Cover 
  • Talcum Powder without perfume
  • Gum (Pasai)
  • Oil Paint

Preparing Process:

Paper Mache Doll Making Process:

Mould Preparation Process:

The mould for paper mache is similar to the clay dolls. The moulds are prepared based on the features of the dolls. In some cases, the mould used for clay dolls is utilized or a new mould is made specially for paper mache dolls. Some moulds are made separately for each element that highlights the doll. Incase of making a mould, the modeller moulds the doll in a clay. POP and Cement is used to make the mould. Sometimes coir is also added in the POP and Cement mixture the obtain better strength. The mould is now ready to use.

Handmade Dolls of Tamil Nadu

Paper Mache Dough Making Process:

Paper Mache Paste or flour is prepared by kallaar maavu (White stone used for drawing kolam)+paper maavu (Paper Flour)+pasai(Gum made by boiling tapioca flour in water).All three are kneaded to a dough.

Paper Mache Doll Dough

Paper Mache Mixture

Making of Paper Mache Doll:

Dough is then rolled flat.

Paper Mache Dolls of Tamil Nadu

Mould is puffed with talcum powder that acts like a grease. Ash was used during those days when talcum was not available.

South Indian Handicrafts

Rolled dough is then spread and pressed over the mould.

Rolled dough is then spread and pressed over the mould

Traditional Paper Mache of Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram Traditional Dolls

Cow Doll Paper Mache

The pasai or gum is applied on the spread dough.

Tamil Nadu Doll

Cement packaging cover is torn into pieces, dipped in pasai and stuck over the applied gum on the pressed dough.

Paper Mache dolls of Tamil Nadu

Paper Mache Traditional Doll

This sheet is used to give gripness to the doll when removed/unmoulded from the mould and each sheet cost Rs.5.

Traditional Dolls of Tamil Nadu

Paper Mache Dolls of Tamil Nadu

Moulded Paper Mache Doll

The moulds are then let to dry in sunlight. The dried doll is taken out of the mould. Water is applied on the edges of the doll to make the hard surface soft and smooth.The extras on the side joints are corrected using a knife. Sukkan which is nothing but the dough and fevicol is applied on the corrected areas to bring the doll to shape. Again water is brushed over the filled areas of sukkan. Now both front (Mun Acchu)and back (Pin Acchu) is joined by using pasai (gum) and dough. The open bottom is covered by placing cardboard or daily calendar cardboard that gives complete finished look. Fevicol and Kallaar maavu+ Chalk Powder is applied on the cardboard to stick the dried doll to the base. Correction and final finish is done by hand.

Paper Mache Craft


End product:

Colours are decided based on the traditional colours that has been followed for decades or reference is taken from the gurukkal of kovil (Temple Priest) or moolasthanam colour is referred. After colouring, eye painting and ornament painting(Gold work=Varnish+Gold Powder+Kerosene) which is an important part of the doll painting is done. Magenta pigment is used only for flowers used. 


Paper Mache Craft