Translated literally to “chewed paper”, this craft did not actually begin in France. Paper Mache was originally invented around the first century A.D. in China, during the Han Dynasty. Its applications ranged from jewelry to weaponry. Today it is used in cultures around world, often for decorative purposes.
In China, Paper Mache is manufactured using a wheat paste.
An Antique Chinese Paper Mache Box
Chinese Paper Mache Mask
Due to established trade routes, paper mache had found its way to Europe and Japan by the 10th Century. Today, the Japanese still use paper mache in their New Year celebrations. Daruma Dolls, also known as Dharma dolls, are said to bring good luck. They are named after Bodhidharma, a popular Buddhist Monk who lived in the 5th Century, and are used to encourage goal setting. Once a goal is realized and completed, the owner is supposed to fill in the eyes of the doll, signifying accomplishment.
A traditional Japanese Daruma Doll
Paper Mache is a fun and engaging activity for all. Here’s a link to build your own Chinese Paper Mache Lantern: http://goo.gl/tfSDn . You’ll need glue, scissors, paper, water, tape and a few other materials for the project.
And just for fun: