RAJA MAN SINGH AND THE KAGZI CLAN
Do you know a Kagzi Mohalla exists in the heart of Rajasthan? This clan of Khanzad Kagzis (Papermakers) was brought and settled in Amber by Raja Man Singh. Today, this colony of Paper makers is still thriving in the Sanganer city of Jaipur, practicing their craft of manufacturing Hand Made paper. Around the year 1586, Raja Man Singh, the then Governor of Kabul, established the Paper industry in Sialkot, which was at that time acknowledged as the most distinguished paper manufacturing center throughout the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Sialkoti paper was extensively used all over India, and it was renowned for its quality and variety. Some of the papers produced in Sialkot were very fine, while the others were handmade, thick and rough. The thick papers were used mostly for Bahi Khatas (record keeping registers). It was the preferred medium for financial records, as no one could erase the text written on it, because the ink penetrated the layers of the paper, and hence no changes were possible. In Sialkot, the best quality of paper (Kagaz, Persian word for paper), was developed by the Kagzi community, and in honour of Man Singh it was called Man Singh Shahi Paper.
It is said that at first, the Khanzad Kagzi family with 17 members settled in Brahampuri in Amber. However, the water available there did not suit the paper production process, and later a shortage of water at Brahampuri compelled the Kagzis to shift to Sanganer, where there was enough water. Water is an important ingredient in the manufacture of paper. The area where these Paper makers first came to in Jaipur is still known as Kagziwada and the Kagzi settlement in Sanganer is known as the Kagzi Mohalla.
Raja Man Singh was a connoisseur of art, craft and literature. He was the patron of an elaborate library and Karkhana. An 18th century Jama Kharch Pothikhana record (Accounts of Library), mentions the use of three prominent types of papers: Mansinghi, Jahangiri and Daulatabadi. The oldest surviving original specimen of paper produced by the forefathers of the Kagzi clan of Sanganer can be dated back to 1623 AD.
Today, Sanganer’s Kagzi Mohalla is one of the largest manufacturers of Handmade paper, and it is the hub for the import and export of eco-friendly Handmade paper. In fact, any product created out of Handmade paper is available here at a minimal price, without compromising on the quality. The Kagzis are more than just business people. They have preserved a remarkable heritage of India.