The rich heritage of Orissa is bestowed with the craft of moulding paper into a range of products including patachitra styled masks locally known as Mukha. The skill has been creatively practised by the craftsmen all over Orissa particularly in and around Puri. These masks are not only strikingly beautiful but sturdy and durable as well.
The history of folk theatre also known as Jatra in regional parlance has been a dominant influence on this craft. The characters of these Jatras are made of wood, sholapith and Papier Mache and are vividly painted to appear attractive. The characters are dressed according to the roles played by them and are controlled by strings. Based on the characterizations, masks are used by the artists. This has given rise to the art of making masks from special paper.
A convoluted procedure is followed to make papers for these items. Paper, waste cloth and different kinds of natural fibres are soaked and beaten into pulp. They are then mixed with a variety of seeds and gums for strength and as protection from termites for durability. The entire process results in a medium so malleable that it requires great skill to be moulded into countless forms. Various items like masks, toys and caps generate a lot of interest among the masses and the classes alike.