The origin of papier-maché artistic expression, that in Puglia
was and is typical phenomenoun of Lecce, probably goes back to the period
between the XVIIth and XVIIIth century, when - with the devenlopment of
arts due to the building of many churches and monuments - the good taste
and creativeness of the artisans of Lecce, that didn't possess any valuable
materials, found in the art of modelling paper - with the help of several
"poor" matters such as straw, rags and plaster, and of few tools,
but above all of patience, disposition and fantasy - the opportunity of
realizing a great number of holy works, which took the faithful back to
worship, at the time when the Counter Reformation Church was involved
in its crusade against Lutheranism.
Today the production of paper-maché, mostly concentrated in the
province of Lecce, is the result of an artisan tradition which is very
near to the pure expression of art.
This production is generally represented by statues reproducing holy subjects
(saints, even in natural proportions, in a position either dynamic or
static), always emotional, with a particular care for dresses, realized
in a very detailed way.
In the last years, that have seen a renewal of this art by young people,
production is addressing itself towards new and varied models, such as
nativities, dolls, masks, toys, without neglecting traditional subjects.
The beautiful baroque of Lecce we can find in churches, convents, balconies,
archs, capitals and in crucifixes, Marys and saints in papier-machè,
express and represent a face, a peculiar language of Lecce, an ancient
tradition, a glorious, social and popular culture.
Back to the home page