Thanks to the availability of materials(straw, rags, glue, and plaster) and the easy process that requires no complex machinery, the creation of beautiful papier mâché products has been passed down for generations, specialising in the gifts and fancy goods sector and, in particular, with religious subjects.
Even if known since antiquity, the art of papier mâché reached its high point between the XVII and XVIII centuries, providing the raw materials for masterpieces of sculpture that can be admired even today in may religious buildings, especially in the Salento region. In particular, since the early 1700s and even moreso in the centuries to follow, Lecce has been one of the leading centres of papier mâché production through the selection of individual figurative models, in contrast to contemporary Neapolitan workshops.
The first papier mâché artist to autograph his work, a statue of San Lorenzo in the province of Lecce (Lizzanello) dated 1782, was Pietro Surgente, also known as Mesciu Pietru de li Cristi.
Other papier mâché artists who worked between the 19th and 20th centuries stood out on the international panorama, like Raffaele Carretta, Giuseppe Manzo, Antonio Maccagnani, Cesare Gallucci, Pietro Indino, Luigi Guacci.
Currently, the most interesting and familiar use of papier mâché is in the allegorical floats used in the Carnival parades of Putignano and Massafra.
By the editorial staff
Project created in collaboration with InnovaPuglia.