Nepalese handmade lokta paper is made from the fibrous inner bark of high-altitude evergreen shrubs, primarily Daphne bholua and Daphne papyracea, known as lokta bushes. These shrubs grow in clusters on the southern slopes of Nepal's Himalayan mountains between 1,600 and 4,000 metres above sea level.
Lokta paper's durability and resistance to tearing, humidity, insects and mildew have traditionally made lokta paper the preferred choice for the recording of official government records. The earliest surviving lokta paper document is a sacred Buddhist text, the Karanya Buha Sutra, which was block-printed on lokta paper and is estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,900 years old.
With the introduction of paper craft imports from Tibet in the 1930s, the production of handmade lokta paper began to decline. In the 1980s UNICEF added their support to local efforts to revive Nepal's indigenous paper making processes and to establish an export market. Today the handmade paper industry in Nepal is growing at a rate of 15% per year.
Handmade lokta-based craft paper products continue to offer considerable economic sustainability for poor rural Nepalese women. Raw lokta paper is produced in more than 22 districts in Nepal, but finished lokta paper products are produced only in Kathmandu Valley and Janakpur.
Modern uses of lokta paper include prayer flags, book binding, wallpaper, wrapping paper for gifts as well as for goods such as incense, spices and medicine, packaging and origami. We also recommend it for collage, card-making, covering boxes, furniture etc. and making lampshades. Some lokta papers go well with Japanese washi papers, for example in making Japanese geometric boxes when two complementary papers are recommended. The quality of lokta is not the same as washi. Though both are hand-made, the Japanese papers are smoother and the printed patterns are regular and even. The more rustic nature of the lokta papers is however very appealing.
Our lokta papers are all approximately 50 x 70 cm and are available as whole, half and quarter sheets.
We recommend Yamato Nori paste for use with lokta paper.