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Papier-mache and lacquer work: Persian handicraft

Persian work of lacquer or Zir Laaki first became popular under the name of papier-mache.

Persian work of lacquer or Zir Laaki first became popular under the name of papier-mache which is a French word, with the word papier meaning paper and mache, to crumple.  

One reason for lacquer work to be called papier-mache is the usage of paper waste in making the objects that are painted or covered by lacquer on the surface.

With little difference, this craft is also common in traditional handicrafts of other regions such as China and India.

In Iran, Zir Laaki painting became common, especially in painting pen holder cases. Most probably, before the Islamic era, lacquer was used to protect wooden products.

To make papier-mache, paper waste, water and glue are mixed to make a paste, and then turn it into small objects like pen holder cases, book covers, mirror cases, and other objects.

After it is dried, it is painted and polished with lacquer or oil. This leads the Zir Laaki painting to achieve an effect similar to oil painting.

Iranian city of Isfahan is the center of making papier-mache.

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