THE SACRED ART OF LOKTA PAPER MAKING

Lokta Paper - Kind people

Lokta Paper is the traditional handmade paper of Nepal. Made from the fibrous inner bark of the Lokta plant, our paper is renowned for its beautiful organic texture and its extremely durable properties. Having been used for sacred texts and civic documents for millennia, Lokta Paper is the physical manifestation of knowledge and cultural heritage passed down from generation to generation. 

Lokta is a rare evergreen bush that graces the southern slopes of the Nepali Himalayas, making the creation of Lokta paper a unique and valued artisanal tradition of the Nepali region. Lokta paper is ecologically sustainable as harvesting the bark does not disturb the shrub’s roots or negatively impact the Lokta’s growth. After each harvest, the bush continues to thrive and grows back for the next year’s harvest, allowing Lokta artisans to continually produce this handmade paper from a plant they both admire and deeply respect.

The art of making Lokta paper results in a product that is as durable as it is beautiful. It is the Loka paper’s elegance and permanence that has made it an essential player in safeguarding ancient sacred texts. The Karanya Buha Sutra, a sacred Buddhist text, estimated to be between 1000 to 1900 years old, is written on Lokta paper. It is the artistry and durability of the Lokta paper that has allowed this cultural heritage to survive.

Beyond its place in the spiritual heart of Nepal, Lokta paper has also been the paper of record for keeping government documents, as its fibrous content makes it resistant to humidity, tearing, mildew, and insects.

With its appealing texture and exceptional strength, Lokta paper is a valued artifact of the Nepali people and its making is a time-honored tradition passed from generation to generation.

Given its ancient history, the making of Lokta paper is a traditional process, requiring no huge machinery or large workforce. After harvesting the Lokta, Nepali artisans remove and clean the bark off the stem. After it's cleaned, the bark is cooked in boiling water and then rinsed in cold water. The fibers of the Lokta plant are self-adhesive by nature, meaning that no additives are required to make the treasured Lokta paper. Instead, artisans merely have to pound the cooked bark with wooden hammers to transform it into a sticky woody paste.

Once the pulp is created, it’s mixed with water and spread onto framed plates, where the paper is left to dry in the sun.  The side pressed against the frames is smooth, while the sun-kissed side dries naturally in the sun, giving the Lokta paper its signature organic texture. 

The art of Lokta paper making is one of the most important heritage crafts in the area and allows many women and men to continue to protect traditions passed down to them from ancestors. The craft of papermaking also provides traditional artisans economic freedom and a livelihood that is ecologically sustainable to the surrounding environment. The paper, like the process, is the culmination of generations of knowledge and serves as an opportunity to celebrate Nepali tradition and local heritage.