Lokta Paper also known as Nepali paper (Nepal Kagaj) is an eco-friendly paper handmade from the fibre of Lokta Bush (scientific name Daphne papyracea). The shrub grows at an altitude of 6500 ft or above on the southern slopes of the Himalayas. Lokta paper is fully sustainable and eco-friendly as only the inner bark of the Lokta bush is stripped away. Its root system isn’t damaged. So, the plant regenerates to its original height in 5 to 7 years. Each sheet of Lokta paper is crafted by talented artisans in Nepal. So the cultivation of this tree-free paper is the source of income for many people in rural and underdeveloped regions in Nepal.
History of Lokta Paper:
Lokta paper is also known as Nepali Kagaj (paper). It has been used in Nepal since the 12th century and was the only kind of paper produced and found in Nepal until the 20th century. It was used for religious purposes to write religious texts, print mantras for prayer wheels, and religious tales. In the late 20th century, however, the market saw a surplus in cheap papers imported from China and India. This was a threat to the local paper-making industry of Nepal and would affect the livelihood of village artisans directly. The government upon recognizing the importance of the paper in Nepali culture and economy mandated the use of Nepali Lokta paper in all handwritten official documents. Even now the tradition of using Nepali paper is kept alive. It is used for all kinds of land ownership papers (lal purja) and other legal documents.
Today, Lokta paper is not used as commercially as before in textbooks, notebooks, newspapers, etc. But Lokta paper still holds cultural and moral significance. It is very popular in making crafts, decorative paper, making dairies, lamp-decors, greeting cards, and other accessories. Lokta paper is also great for bookbinding, origami, block-printing, and reusable gift wrap. It comes in various sizes, textures, and colours.
How You Can Use Lokta Paper:
From tiny greeting cards and tea coasters to huge lamps and clocks, there is an escalating demand for Lokta paper products in the market. Due to the papers’ durability and eco-friendly nature, environmentally conscious people have started substituting non-recyclable paper made products, plastic and glass products with Lokta made products. And so should you. Here are a couple of ways that you can use Lokta paper.
Lokta papers come in various designs, textures, colours, and patterns. You can find floral style, dotted, lined, printed, and also unique drawings and doodles on Lokta paper.
Instead of using plastic gift wrappers, that are non-sustainable and environmentally friendly, you can use Lokta papers instead. In comparison to plastic, paper is also easier to handle, fold, and wrap. It takes less hassle to wrap a gift. Plus, the texture of the paper is luscious. You can even write or draw on the paper yourself. This makes the gift much more thoughtful. The recipient is bound to know the effort and care you put in.
Origami art is creative and unique. But origami models are only as good as the paper that you make them with. This means that for most origami projects, something like copy/printer paper or colour craft paper simply won’t do.
For origami, you need a paper that can be folded easily and resist cracking. The thickness of your origami paper is crucial. Super thin paper can be folded into many layers without being bulky, but is often fragile and can tear if folded in the same place repeatedly. On the other hand, super thick paper is very hard to crease multiple times but will be very strong. The perfect balance is Lokta paper. It is strong, durable, and folds easily. Each sheet of paper is unique because of the fibre and it is available in multiple colours, textures, and patterns.
Store-bought greeting cards aren’t nearly thoughtful and special as handmade ones. Consider using Lokta paper for making greeting cards. Again, they are strong and durable. Each sheet of paper is handmade and hence unique. Lokta paper dyes easily, so you can paint, draw, write, and doodle on the paper. If decorating the paper yourself is too much work, you can buy decorative Lokta papers that are ready to write something on.
Plus, imagine the texture of the paper as compared to smooth paper with plastic lamination. It is much more special and fulfilling to touch and look at.
An incredibly popular way to change the look and feel of a room is to use decorative paper to either create a lampshade or cover one. Lokta paper is strong enough to make a lampshade, to begin with. And it is also just translucent enough to let light pass. Again, Lokta papers are readily available in different colours, patterns, decorative accessories, and thicknesses. You can also buy plain paper and decorate them to your liking. Heat and paper together cause a fire hazard, so we recommend being careful.
Diaries and journal books are purposeful and important to keep your thoughts organized. You can buy diaries from stationery stores, or you can make one for yourself. Lokta paper is ideal to make diaries and books in this way. They will last longer, won’t wear out easily, and look as visually pleasing as a diary can be. Handmade Lokta paper diaries are also great gifts. They fold easily and are easy to handle and work with.
Binding a book or a notebook with paper is another way to use Lokta paper in. Whether you want to repair a worn-out book or bind a good book with paper for decorative purposes, Lokta paper is the way to go. Once again, they are durable, strong, and recyclable. You can choose the right thickness and colour of the paper to bind the books.
Alternatively, you can also make bookmarks with Lokta paper.
As mentioned above, Lokta paper has been used to write official documents, land-ownership papers, religious texts, etc. for centuries. Still to this day, important official documents and legal documents of state affairs are written or printed in Lokta paper. Lokta paper is the standard of paper and also keeps alive our tradition.
Woodblock printing or block printing is a technique of printing images, images or patterns on textiles and paper. There is evidence that it existed as early as the fifth century BC, with roots in India, China, and Japan. A design is sketched, and the design is carved into wood reverse; since the printed image will be the reverse of what is on the block. Once the block is carved, ink is applied to the carving, then you press it down onto the paper. Since Lokta paper is strong, durable, long-lasting, recyclable, and dyes easily, it is a popular choice for block printing.
Where else is Lokta paper used?
The markets for these papers have increased among businesses too. Restaurants around the popular areas Thamel and Basantapur flaunt Lokta paper-made wall clocks and lamps among many other products. This gives their place a local, traditional, Nepali feel. Similarly, offices have started using accessories like files, file holders, and pen holders made of Lokta papers.
Lokta papers can be used in multiple such ways. Browse the collection of Lokta paper and Lokta paper products at Himalayan Merch.