We strive to bring you interesting stories about Udaipur and its people in the People of Udaipur segment of UdaipurTimes. Today’s story is about a father-son duo who introduced handmade paper to Udaipur and built their reputation in the domestic and international market by manufacturing, marketing and preparing handmade paper products.
Feroz Hussain Kagzi is a resident of Udaipur and runs his business from a generations old store in the Bada Bazaar market of Udaipur. Feroz, in an exclusive interaction with UdaipurTimes, shared how he and his father Abbas Ali made and sold handmade paper. In 1985, Feroz Hussain joined his father and grandfather in their shop in 1985. In a candid conversation, he revealed that his father Abbas Ali was the first person in Udaipur to launch handmade paper and paper products. the hand.
How handmade paper was introduced to Udaipur
It was the era of the British Raj in India, when their shop, which was in the bookbinding business, was a source of heritage Bahi Khata and supplying binders to the local market and UK administrators. Gradually foreign tourists also started to frequent their store and it was when a few tourists introduced Abbas Ali to handmade paper, began his exploration and foray into this business. Before that handmade paper was an unknown commodity in Udaipur. Abbas Ali explored nearby areas and procured handmade paper of Ghosunda in Chittorgarh. Handmade The paper was used by British government officials for their official documents and records. It became the USP of their shop in Bada Bazar. It wasn’t long before the local people began to understand the quality and durability of this product. Handmade paper began to be sought after for painting and drawing. Feroz said the recognition of the availability of this product in their store earlier by the British and then by foreign tourists led them to foray into the export market. Abbas Ali started the export business in 1981.
handmade paper books
Elaborating further, Feroz said that the handmade paper is available in different colors like red, yellow, khaki, green, black, etc. books. He further added that they sell quality real handmade papers made from soapstone and bamboo. Nowadays, factory-made paper is produced. He explained that the actual lifespan of factory-made paper does not exceed two years, while real-grade handmade paper survives more than 50 years.
Feroz showed his handmade diary to the UdaipurTimes team members. It was filled with vintage photographs of him and his father with international clients. Collection of letters, postcards, stamps and photos can be seen in these images. They have received several letters of appreciation for their quality handmade paper from foreigners. People from Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, USA, Israel, Egypt, New York and France visited and liked their handmade paper products.
The decline of handmade paper
The huge untapped potential of the handmade paper sector cannot be ignored in a world where the emphasis is on environmentally friendly products and manufacturing methods. The main constraint, which turned out to be the sworn enemy of handmade paper, was the lack of demand, as factory-made paper began to be produced in huge quantities and was cheaper due to its lower cost of production. . Feroz is the last of his family through the generation that sold handmade papers. No one in his family will pursue this endeavor any further, he added. The COVID years, the drying up of the tourist market (tourists were still interested in their handmade paper and handmade paper products), the availability of cheap branded machine-made paper, the shortage of handmade paper quality hand in the market led to the decline and permanent closure of this business stream, he says.
Around 3,000 people are currently employed in this industry, according to Feroz. People employed in this field have direct ties to countries such as Spain, Germany, France and the United States. He mentioned that in his father’s time the cost of a handmade paper was 5 paisa and now the cost of a paper is 35 rupees.
When asked if the handmade papermaking business would continue, Feroz Hussain shrugged and replied that handmade paper would eventually disappear from the market in the coming years.