The basic material of our products is called ‘Lokta’, hence the name ‘Lokta Shop’. It has been in use since the 12th century to store ancient texts that are still available today. It is wildcrafted and handcrafted made from the bushes of the Daphne plant that grows in the Himalayan forests between 1,600 and 4,000 m (c.5,250–13,000 ft) above the sea level. Among many species of the Daphne plant, only a few are suitable to make this premium quality paper.
Some Cool Facts about Lokta Paper
- The natural fiber of the Lokta makes it a long-lasting piece of paper. The shelf life of this paper is almost 1000-3500 years.
- In 2008 china imported something significant from Nepal, and it was the Lokta tapper in bulk. They used this soft paper to wrap precious stones to save them from scratching.
- Lokta paper was used in the Grand Hayat hotel of Beijing to cover the panels of walls to give them a prestigious look.
- Lokta one of the most eco-friendly materials since it is not a product of wood. The plants can be reused to make paper again. When cut to make paper, these bushes increase, and the plant needs to trim after every 3-4 years. This trimming helps this plant to grow faster and stronger.
- This industry employs almost 4000 families in the rural areas of Nepal, and the other 2500 families are involved with this in Kathmandu. These families are affiliated with this to make paper or products related to papermaking. Many unemployed females are winning their bread and butter through this industry. According to GIZ, the growth of this industry can help to terminate the poverty in rural areas.
- Many cheap machine-made papers tried to take the place of this premium quality paper in the 1950 era, but Lokta maintained the quality and prestige over time.
Common Uses of Lokta Paper
- Due to the long shelf life of this paper, it is commonly used in sacred books and at religious places.
- It is extensively used in book bindings, journals, calendars and even for business cards.
- The use of Lokta paper is growing in making restaurant menus.
- Spices and medical industries use this paper in their packaging.
- People use this paper in lampshades, envelops, fashion garments, and toys because it is easy to dye and has a very soft texture.
- Lokta is well known for being used as wrapping paper.
Making of Lokta Paper
The bushes of Lokta trees are torn without damaging the roots. The bushes and flowers of this plant give out a great fragrance when torn.
(When the bushes of trees cut down, it gives more strength to the plant, and in the monsoon season, it helps to protect the villages from flooding. The roots of this tree keep the soil stronger and help to avoid mudslides or land sliding in the area.)
- The collected plucked flowers are boiled at a suitable temperature. The flowers and bushes need to be cooked for 8 hours. Once boiled properly, they turn into a smooth paste.
- The paste is then placed on a frame and made sure that placement is balanced by spreading it with hands. The frame is lifted to adjust and finalize the accuracy.
- The frame is then dried under the sun to form the lokta paper. It can be dyed in various base colors and dried in the sun again. During this exposure to the sun, each paper gets slight uniqueness to its color.
- The making of lokta paper needs the skin of bushes and does not require whole shrubs, so villagers use these bushes as a fuel. In this way, there is no waste during the process of making Lokta paper. The remaining of this plant can be used as fuel or in other methods.
A Durable Paper
The world found out about this paper when a document appeared in National Archive Museum in Kathmandu from 400 to 750 AD. The document was a sacred Buddist text called the Karanya Buha Sutra written in Lichchhavi text as block prints on Lokta paper.
The Shelf-life of Lokta paper is 1000 - 3500 years. It’s natural properties and making process make it safe from insects. The Lokta Fiber itself is extremely durable. Its durability is one of its competitive advantages.