Lama-Li Lokta Paper
About Lokta - Lama Li Lokta paper begins it's journey at 6,500 to 12,000 feet above sea level in the majestic Himalayan mountains of Nepal and Tibet. This is where the Daphne Cannabina Papyraceal Bush, recognizable by it=s small white flowers, can be found growing wild on the some of the worlds most famous mountainsides and landscapes. Skilled highland artisans have harvested the inner bark of this 15 foot tall bush for over a millennia to make the thick, durable but smooth Lokta paper. Not only is Lokta paper visually stunning but the Daphne bush uniquely regenerates itself every 4 to 6 years after it's cutting thus preserving the fragile forest and ecology of the Himalayas. Other features of Lokta include its durability, its neutral Ph and it=s absorbance of the natural dyes used by the Himalayan artisans thus rendering a brilliant myriad of paper colors to dazzle the eye.
Making Lokta - The production process of this hand made paper starts with cooking the dried outer bark from the Daphne Papyracea stalk in boiling ash water or a caustic soda solution. The softened inner bark is then taken out and rinsed with clean water to remove excess impurities and with a sickle is cut into small pieces. These smaller pieces of stalk are again cooked with the measured proportion of water to create a softened mulch. After a long slow cook, this softer bark is rinsed with water then spread on a flat stone for beating. A wooden hammer is generally used to turn the softened bark mulch into finely mashed pulp. After this beating, the pulp is mixed with a required amount of new water and stirred with wooden ladle to form a homogenous emulsion mixture. This potful of pulp aided by a measuring tool is poured into a screen frame which is being floated in a cool pond. As soon as the pulp is poured over the frame, the frame is gently shaken to spread pulp evenly over the surface. Then the frame is taken out of the pond with the layer of the pulp (a wet sheet of paper) and is taken away to dry in the Himalayan sunshine and mountain air. This finished layer of dried pulp has now become a thick sheet of paper and is ready to be peeled slowly from the frame.
Tradition - For over 1,500 years this handmade paper has been made in the mountain areas of Nepal and Tibet. The oldest manuscripts of Hindu & Buddhist texts have been recorded on this long lasting Nepali handmade paper. So, from the tallest mountains in the world to your own personal journals and scrapbooks, the greatest journey has already begun with Lokta paper.
Note: Lokta paper making is a trade commonly taken up by unmarried or widowed women to support their children and families in an economically poor environment. This way of making a living is often an alternative to prostitution or other dangerous money making alternatives.
Thai Momigami Paper
This high-quality Thai paper is uniquely defined by its bright countenance, whites or colours, and it’s crinkled thick texture. Literally the name Momigami means crumpled (momi) paper (gami) in Japanese where this paper making technique originated. Momigami is traditionally made from the pulps of the kozo bush (60%) and the bamboo plant (40%), then treated with root of Devil's Tongue (konnyaku) before being wrinkled, rubbed and stretched. This gorgeous paper is often used for decoration and paper clothing used in traditional Asian festivals.
Tea-dyeing is one of the earliest methods of fabric and paper modification. Using the natural hues of the plants in a liquid concoction, tea-dyeing brings new depths and life to a pattern by infusing it not only with subtle color but also scent, pattern and marbling. The dye being natural reacts to the paper at different variables and because of this, tea-dyeing always produces very interesting visual results! Tea-dyeing never gives consistent color results, making each article you dye a unique work of art each and every time.
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Japanese Washi & Yuzen Paper
Washi Paper - Washi is a decorative yet durable type of traditional paper made in Japan for over 1500 years. Literally Wa- meaning Japan and shi- meaning paper. The inner barks of three plants, all native to Japan, are used primarily in the making washi.
Kozo (paper mulberry) is said to be the “masculine” element, the protector, thick and strong. It is the most widely used fibre, and the strongest. It is grown as a farm crop, and regenerates annually, so no forests are depleted in the creation process.
Mitsumata (a yellow flowering bush native to Asia) is the “feminine” element, graceful, delicate, soft and modest. Mitsumata takes longer to grow and thus makes a more expensive washi paper. Mitsumata has been used as a paper material popularly since the printing department of Japanese government officially instated its use at the beginning of Meiji period.
Gampi (a shrub can be grown up to 2m, a member of the Thymelaceae or Daphne family) was the earliest and is considered to be the noblest fibre, noted for its richness, dignity and longevity. Originally it was harvested in spring and summer from the northern Japanese mountain of Sanuki. It has an exquisite natural sheen, and is often made into very thin tissues used in book conservation and chine colle printmaking. This natural 'sized' finish which does not bleed when written or painted on. Other fibres such as hemp, abaca, rayon, horsehair, and silver or gold foil are some-times used for paper or mixed in with the other fibres for decorative effect.
By origin, the entire Washi making procedure was a long and torturous process often performed in the cold weather of winter as the temperature of the river water needed is icy and nonerosive. Washi making was derived from earlier ways of paper making founded in China then expounded upon in Japan.
Uses of Washi
Washi is generally tougher than paper made from wood pulp and is used in many traditional Japanese arts such as Origami (paper folding), Shodo (calligraphy), and Ukiyo-e (woodblock print pictures). Washi was also used to make various everyday goods like clothes, screens, and toys as well as the sacred cloth of Shinto priests, statues of Buddha, and wreaths for winners in 1998 Winter Olympics.
Yuzen is a decorative form of dyeing practiced in ancient Japan associated mainly with kimono and Washi paper. The techniques of Yuzen dyeing were established about 300 years ago when hand-painted patterns were transferred to silk fabrics for the first time. Yuzen dyeing enabled fabrics and paper to be dyed in refreshingly vibrant colors and gold/silver accents added where before that was impossible. Many famous Yuzen artisans existed in ancient Japan renown for their mastery and beautiful techniques. Even today Yuzen-dyed Kimono and Washi are extremely sought after as ancient and valued treasures of old Japan.
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Thai Saa Paper (Asian Mulberry Bush)
Thai Saa paper is a beautiful and unique paper that has a long tradition of eco-sustainability within the Asian village cultures. Over 600 years ago in Thailand and the mountains of Northeastern Burma the Hill-Tribe people found a remarkable bark that naturally peeled from the trunk of the Mulberry tree. Over the years Saa Paper making developed without destroying or cutting down trees.
Today, Saa Paper is a bi-product of the silk making process. Silk Worms will only eat Mulberry leaves. The bark is peeled often from these same trees to make pulp. The Mulberry leaves and bark will grow back, naturally resupplying the raw material resources for two important traditional Thai industries.
Because of it’s thick and hearty texture the Saa paper is often mosaicked with natural leaves, petals and seeds. The thick pulp of the paper holds and protects these delicate natural pieces with beautiful durability for years to come.
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Saa Paper or Thai Kozo
Kozo is a general name of the fiber from various types of mulberry plants that is utilized to make paper. Kozo is a principal fiber used in most Asian papers and is known for its strength, flexibility and length. Traditional kozo paper is naturally colored and made from 100% pure fiber with a neutral pH.
Ecologically, kozo bushes grow very rapidly and are infinitely better to use for paper as opposed to tree pulp. Only 6 months after fresh shoots are trimmed off a tree it is mature and ready to be harvested again. Almost 100% of the 'tree' can be used. Fibres & bark are cut up, cleaned, and dyed with water-soluble colors to make the paper pulp. In addition, white kozo paper is bleached in the sun and not by chlorine acids.
Thai handmade papers, also called Saa papers are acid free papers made in Thailand using 100% natural kozo fibers. Each paper has unique and distinctive characteristics in terms of density, texture and sizes. These papers possess a beautiful blend of rich colors and intricate designs.
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East Asian Flower Symbology
For thousands of years, flower symbology has played an important part in Asian art and heraldry. From the seasonal brush paintings of China to the warrior “mon” (crests) of Japan, flower symbols have been used to convey meanings and associations for all from the individual to the emperor. In Japan, most houses and clans could boast their own flower symbol, often earned in battle in the service of feudal lords. In China and surrounding countries, the ability to portray these flowers and natural images in art, especially “bird-and-flower painting” provided a means to convey subtle intellectual, philosophical, and sometimes political messages within works of art. Below, you will find a short list of some of the most popular flower symbols of East Asian art and culture.
Plum (Ume): The only flower to bloom in winter, the plum is known as a symbol of beauty in the midst of difficulty and adversity. Because the flowers appear in winter-time on otherwise bare branches, they are also seen as a symbol of long life and longevity. The first of the “Four Sage Flowers” as well as one of the “Three Winter Companions” and “Four Seasons”, Plum is one of the traditional symbols of China, and one of the most revered flowers in art, culture, and history.
Orchid (Ran): The second of the “Four Sage Flowers”, Orchid is a symbol of spring, as well as love and beauty. While representative of love and beauty, the orchid also stands for culture and refinement. Finally, orchid is symbolic of bounteous progeny and big families. Noted by Confucius for many of these qualities, he is said to have likened it to the ideal of the sage, or superior man.
Chrysanthemum (Kiku): The third of the “Four Sage Flowers”, Chrysanthemum is a symbol of purity and nobility. Mountain hermits were often said to live on a diet of these flowers, leading to their association with health and longevity as well. Since the 13th century, Chrysanthemum has also been used in the mon of the Japanese imperial family, although many other clans used this symbol in spite of laws restricting its use. Popular to cultivate for pleasure and beauty in ancient China, these flowers were often the pastime of retired poets and scholars leading lives of ease and contemplation. Within the “Four Seasons”, chrysanthemum is the symbol of autumn.
Bamboo (Take): The fourth of the “Four Sage Flowers”, strong and supple bamboo is the symbol of summer. Constancy, integrity and honor are its primary characteristics, while bamboo is also known for longevity (due to its hardiness), and filial piety. Another of the “Three Winter Companions”, bamboo is seen as the most durable and hardy of the plants, and giving of its strength year-round.
Cherry Blossom (Sakura): Compared to the lips of one of the most famous beauties of ancient China, it is said that the cherry vied in richness with the ruby and sapphire. So renowned in Japan that it is simply known as “hana” (the flower), sakura has been the subject of painting and poetry for over a thousand years. As a purely native plant, it has come to represent the national flower of Japan, though rarely used for crests or martial purposes.
Peony (Botan): Known in ancient China as “Hua Wang” (King of Flowers), or “Fu Gui Hua” (Flower of Riches and Honor), the peony has been revered in both China and Japan as one of the most noble and auspicious flowers. In terms of prestige, the peony ranks almost as high as chrysanthemum, paulownia, and hollyhock. Said to be the flower of the yang, or masculine principle, even the name of peony “mu dan” means male vermilion. It is an emblem of love and affection, and a herald of good fortune. Within the “Four Seasons”, peony is said to represent spring.
Lotus (hasu): Symbolic of enlightenment, supreme truth and purity, the lotus has a place in the sacred worship of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. In ancient China, the lotus, said to be supreme among cultivated plants, is also a symbol of numerous offspring and fruitfulness. Lotus is the summer of the “Four Seasons”.
Maple (Kaede): Comprised of the ideograph for “tree” and “wind”, the character for maple evokes images of wind rustling through the leaves of autumn. Just as the cherry blossom and its viewing represent the arrival of spring, so does maple and the enjoyment of its foliage mark the greatest time of autumn enjoyment for Japanese.
Pine (matsu): Third of the “Three Winter Companions”, pine is a symbol of steadfast friendship through adversity. Along with chrysanthemum, tortoise and crane, pine is also an auspicious sign of longevity.
Crane (Tsuru): Associated with pine, bamboo, and tortoise, the crane is a symbol of longevity and a thousand years of life. The legendary winged mount of Taoist sage-hermits, the crane is the most revered bird after the phoenix, and a source of inspiration to many ancient artists and poets.
Carp (Koi): A symbol of love and friendship, carp and goldfish can be seen adorning many decorative patterns.
Dragonfly (Tombo): The “victory insect”, dragonfly is an ancient symbol of victory and martial prowess. Often seen adorning arrow quivers as well as helmets and battle standards.
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