The Cottage industry of paper making by hand has been a source of employment for a long time in rural area of Nepal. Rural industries have played a vital role to improve overall economic situation of the country. There are various handmade paper products for sale in the ServLife Store.
Handmade paper making industry is one of the important rural industries of Nepal. This industry has been widely spread over the hilly region of the country and quite a number of people of the rural areas depends on this industry to supplement their farm income. Low income farm families are engaged in handmade paper making in most places of rural area of Nepal where raw material is available. Handmade paper making is one of such industries in rural areas which is based on local raw material and labour, simple technology dispersed widely and flowing out of the traditional skills of the people. Hence handmade paper making industry has been one of the most important industry in supporting the rural economy of the country.
What is Nepali Handmade Paper ?
Handmade paper is made from the inner bark of a wild understorey shrubs locally known as “Lokta” or Daphne Cannabina or Daphne Papyracea which is found at altitude of 6500 feet to 9500 feet. These plants are observed growing gregariously in the understorey of both coniferous and broad leafed forests. At favourable sites it attains a height of 10 to 15 feet with basal diameter ranging from 2 to 3 inches. The leaves are alternate green in colour, 2 to 4 inches long and 0.5 to 1 inch wide. The flowers are white with a sweet smelling scent. The inner fibrous bark of this plant is the raw material used for the making of Nepali handmade paper. The “Lokta” or Daphne Papyracea has characteristics of growing after cutting from above 6 inches from the ground and becomes again matured to cut after 6 to 8 years. Thus it preserves the fragile forest ecology of Nepal. The long fibrous in handmade paper is prized for its rough attractive texture its durability, strength and its resistance to insects.
The production process of a handmade paper starts from cooking the dried bark of “Lokta” or Daphne Papyracea with ash or caustic soda solution. The soften bark received after boiling is taken out and washed with clean water to remove impurities and then cut into small pieces with sickle. The small pieces of bark once again cooked with the required proportion of water. After cooking, the soft bark is cleaned with water then kept on a plane and flat stone for beating with wooden hammer to turn into fine pulp. After beating the pulp is mixed with required amount of water and stirred with wooden ladle to form a homogenous emulsion of pulp. Then the potful of pulp-measuring tool is put into the frame which is being floated in the pond. As soon as the pulp is put over the frame, the frame is gently shaken to spread pulp evently over the frame. The frame is then taken out from the pond and the frame with the layer of the pulp (wet sheet of paper) is taken away for drying in the sunlight. The layer of pulp which becomes a sheet of paper in the frame after drying is peeled slowly from the frame.