The Monpas | Art and Crafts | UPSC

The Monpas | Art and Crafts | UPSC


KVIC Brings Alive 1000-yrs Old Monpa Handmade Paper Industry in Tawang to Revive the Heritage Art

      WHY IN NEWS:

Hot from PIB !

MINISTRY? :- Ministry of Micro,Small & Medium Enterprises
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : Art and Crafts : Tribes


For PRELIMS go through the different art forms Monpas are specialised in . Take a note of the local names of these art and crafts.

For MAINS note down the rich socio-economic heritage of Monpas community.


The handmade paper industry almost disappeared in the last 100 years; prompting KVIC to plan revival of this ancient art.


  • The art of making Monpa handmade paper originated over 1000 years ago.

Gradually the art became an integral part of local custom and culture in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh 

  • The Monpas have a glorious heritage of arts and crafts.
  • Their craftsmanship is manifested in various trades like weaving, bamboo works and paintings, paper making, incense making, pottery, etc.
  • Monpa artisans are held in esteem and respected in their society as their services are inevitable in their socio-cultural life.


  • As the region is endowed with lush green forest, various kinds of wood is extracted to make various objects of their daily use as well as for other purposes.
  • Their skill in woodwork is best expressed in wood carving.
  • It is a specialized craft confined to menfolk only.

The experts who are involved in the above trades are known as ‘Trukpa’ 

  • Their low table called ‘Cho-tze’ is known for its artistic carved wood work.

  The Monpas | Art

Cho-tze | The Monpas | Art and Crafts 

  • It is open on the side fencing the person seated on it.
  • The other sides are paneled with carved figures of dragon, bird or flower pattern painted in vivid colours.
  • The Monpas also produce various utensils of daily use from wood.

Zan Shongbu”- a shallow flat rectangular utensil used for kneading flour is made from a single block of wood by hollowing out inside

  • Jandhong’ is a long cylindrical churn made of wood with brass around.It is used for churning butter tea.
  • For churning milk, they have ‘Zob’ which resembles jangdhong in size but bigger in size.
  • Sheng Tsumrong’ is a wooden mortar in which cereals and other edibles are pounded with the help of a wooden pestle.


  • The Monpas have been weaving cloth to meet their requirements since time immemorial.

Weaving in their society is done almost exclusively by women

  • Girls are trained in the art of weaving from a very early age.
  • The basic raw materials used by them in weaving are wool and cotton yarn
  • They shear their sheep and do the washing, combing, spinning and weaving.
  • Cotton yarn is imported from the plains of woolens which meet their essentials requirement of clothing.
  • They also weave blankets, hoversacks, tents etc.,from yak hair. Of all the carpets deserves a special mention.

By combining different shades of woolen yarn, they weave carpets with exquisite designs of dragon, snow lion, birds or flowers on them

  • Equally sophisticated and artistic is their textile bags which is made by combining five colours- red, yellow, white, black and green.


  • Paper making is another art in which the Monpas excel.
  • Probably they are the only tribe in Arunachal Pradesh who know the art of making paper.
  • Their paper is made from the bark of a shrub called Dapne Botanical Papercia, locally called Shugu-Sheng.
  • The Papers produced are monpas are said to be of very high standard in terms of quality. Monpas use it mainly for religious purposes.

Most of their religious scriptures are written on hand made papers

  • Many holy scriptures are written on ornate cardboard, consisting of several sheets of hand made papers pasted together, and varnished over with a black pigment, upon which the letters are written in silver or gold.
  • 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.
  • In olden days, the local artisans used to travel to Tsona and Lhasa in Tibet 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 (Manietc.
  • 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”.


The handmade paper is basically classified into four categories based on their quality and size:

  • GOCHEMA : This, as the name suggests has the finest quality of paper.
  • TSARSHO : This quality of paper is the thinnest and longest among its type.
  • KANGYURPARSHO : This quality of paper is finely polished on both its sides.
  • KYOSHO : This paper is of the lowest quality and is basically used in household works.

The Monpas | Art and Crafts | UPSC

  • With proper refinement, the local handmade paper can also be used for making visiting cards, greeting cards, letter pads etc.
  • It is an Eco Friendly solution to the problem of energy and pollution.

Apart from this, it is an ideal paper for painting with watercolor, landscapes and portraits 

  • It also serves as an additional income for the farmers.


  • A thangka, also known as tangka, thanka or tanka (Tibetan:)is a painting on cloth.
  • The literal translation of the Tibetan word THANG KA means ‘recorded message’.
  • Among all the art and crafts in Tawang, painting occupies a very special position.
  • Not only is it essential for designing, decorating and finishing many mundane objects, but it is also a highly developed and important means of religious expression.

The thangka consists of a picture panel which is painted over which a textile is mounted and then over which is laid a cover, usually silk

  • It is sometimes called a scroll-painting.
  • The subject matter includes Buddhas, bodhisattvas, goddesses, wrathful creature, humans, inanimate objects (stupas), monastic accessories, religious objects, animals, plants, flowers etc.
  • Painting along with sculpture is a medium through which the highest ideals of Buddhism are evoked and brought alive.


  • The most common headgear of the Monpas is the hat made of Yak’s felt.

It is called ngama-shom or tzithpa-sham in Tsoksom area, nga-sha in Mago-Thingbu and dhueja in Zemithang area

  • The material required for making such hat is yak’s felt and hot water to which is added some crushed crepe apples.
  • Remarkably this hat has no stitching.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • Although bamboo is not abundantly available in their area as compared to other parts of Arunachal Pradesh, the Monpas make judicious use of the limited resources.
  • Besides using it for house-building, they turn out beautiful articles of daily use from purposes and every house has all the requisite types of bamboo baskets and vessels.
  • Their works in basketry is of high craftsmanship.
     SOURCES:  PIB   | The Monpas | Art and Crafts | UPSC 



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