25 February 2010
Posted in CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
Southern Italy was very poor in the past, and artists had very little at their disposal with which to express their creativity. The materials needed for papier maché however (originally rags, straw, glue and eggs) meant that this artform reached its peak in the Salento area of Apulia, Italy.
Although Papier Maché is an ancient technique, its popularity peaked in the 17th and 18th centuries where it was used as a base for all kinds of sculptures including religious creations that can still be seen to this very day in Churches and Cathedrals of the Salento area.
The technique used to make papier maché nowadays is simple and is well know to schoolchildren from many different nations and walks of life. Water and flour to make a paste, newspaper strips to make the maché and a structure to build on which can be anything from a shoebox or balloon to a homemade wire frame for more complicated sculptures like those traditionally made in Salento.
The technique is currently undergoing a renaissance in the area, with young and old alike turing their hands to it and creating both traditional figures and more unconventional models such as dolls, toys and mythical figures. The place you are most likely to see modern papier maché in Salento is on the Carnival floats, where local artists use showcase their talents to make allegorical figures to carry through town.
To incorporate this ancient tradition into your wedding celebrations, you could use papier maché place markers, or even have bespoke cake toppers made of papier maché. If there are children at the wedding, especially if there are enough of them to warrant a supervisor, you could include a papier maché art competition for them to keep them occupied and give a nod to the artistic traditions of this part of Italy.