Lokta paper is a traditional, eco-friendly, handcrafted paper made in Nepal from the bark of the Daphne bush (Daphne papyracea) which grows wild in the Himalayas.
Lokta paper was primarily used for writing sacred texts. Indeed, the oldest surviving lokta paper document is stored in Nepal’s National Archives in Kathmandu – a sacred Buddhist text called the Karanya Buha Sutra, which is estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,900 years old. Lokta paper’s strength and durability means it is still used today for legal documents in China, and it has grown in popularity in the Western world as an unusual paper for writing on or wrapping.
The evergreen Daphne bush grows at high altitudes of up to 3,100 metres. Often classed as a shrub it grows to a height of about 5 ft and has pretty white-pink flowers. These flowers are hermaphrodite (both male and female) and are pollinated by bees and flies.
How Lokta paper is made
The paper is made from the bark of the Daphne bush, which is harvested by hand. The plant regenerates over the next few years and is ready for use again in 5 – 7 years, so it doesn’t have to die or be chopped down for us to have lovely paper!
Once the bark has been chopped from the bush, it is chopped into small pieces and left to soak in water for 5 – 6 hours. It is then boiled in hot water for a couple of hours and further washed in cold water. After this process, it is then beaten to a pulp. Once the bark is mushy it is poured on to paper tray moulds and left to dry in frames in the sun to become paper.