Bark of Lokta Shrubs Which is Called Lokta:
These shrubs are available in two types:
a) Daphne , Voluwa or Cannabine
Daphne Bholua (Dark Lokta)
b) Daphne Papyracia
Daphne Papyracea(White Lokta)Both types of shrubs grow in the northern Himalayan regions at an elevation of 7000-10000 feet, The local name of these shrubs are sikra, susu kagat pate etc. The bark of these shribs are called Lokta or Baruwa. These shrubs are debarked generally in the months of Falgun, Chaitra & Baishakh(March –April). The barks are dried before processing.
Below are the tall wooden cylindrical vessel with stirrer, which is used to stir lokta pulp.
This is also called "Mungro" which is used to beat soaked tender lokta shrubs.
Copper Caldron called "Khadkaunlo", which is used to cook lokta shrubs
Usually ashes are collected from fire wood they use for cooking their daily meals.
It is a kind of strainer attached to wooden frame with stretched nylon cloth.
Wooden Ladle to stir the lokta shrubs while cooking.
This is rectangular wooden container scooped in a single log of wood as you can see in the above picture.
Production process technology:
a) Collection of Lokta Barks:
People go in batches into the forest and collect bark from lokta shrubs carefully so that it can re generate again for next harvest. They carry the bark in bamboo basket to the working station. The outer crust of the bark is are quickly stripped off with a knife, they are cleaned and left to dry on the ground.The barks cleaned are soaked in water for 2 to 4 hours . This part of the job is done near a source of water such as a river or stream as plenty of water is needed.
b) Preparation of ash:
Ashes obtained by from Banjh or Khusro wood used for cooking daily family meal. Ashes are collected in a conical basket called "Doko". A wooden vessel of Tin can placed below it. Then water is added to the ash from the top of the doko. The water added percolates through the layer of ashes and collects in the Doond. The filtered water thus obtained is yellowish in color, but as more and more ashes is added in the Doko the filtrate below gets darkened in color. This filtrate forms the alkali extract which is used to digest the barks.
c) Digesting the barks:
The barks kept for drying are placed in a large vessel called" Khadkaunlo" made of copper. If such a vessels is not available, people use form of tin or zinc vessel. The alkali filtrate is then poured into the vessels. The extract covers up the barks. The barks are then boiled on an oven for 3-4 hours till all the barks become soft and tender. The barks are turned upside down in the cauldron using wooden ladle during the digesting.
d) Cutting the barks:
The 'Khadkaunlo' vessel is slowly tilted in order to let the alkaline water pass into another vessel leaving the soften barks behind in the 'Khadkaunlo'. The barks are then taken out , washed with water, and cut into small pieces with a knife. This cutting helps to bring about closer reaction between barks and the alkali solution.
e) Boiling the minced barks:
The minced barks are again placed in the Khadkaunlo vessel with the required amount of alkali solution as before and kept at a brisk boiling stage for 3-4 hours. A stage is reached when the barks are soft enough and easily breakable. If this stage is not reached , further boiling with addition of more alkali solution is done. When the required stage is reached , the soft barks are now spread over a mat. The water is thus soaked away and only the barks are left on the mat.
f) Cleansing and Pounding the Lokta:
The barks are now once more cleansed with water. They are taken to a leveled stone surface and pounded with a wooden hammer called " Mungro" Tjis pounding process takes 3-4 hours, after which the barks are converted into a pulpy consistency . This part of the job is important because on this depends the fineness and quality of paper.
g) Making the emulsion of the pulp:
The "Lokta" thoroughly pounded into a pulpy mass, is now placed in a tall cylindrical vessel and a required amount of water added . This mixture is then vigorously stirred with a 'Madani'(stirrer) so that a homogeneous emulsion of pulp is formed in the water. At this state, any dirt of foreign body still existing in the pulp is removed. This pulp emulsion is now ready for paper-making.
h) Casting of pulp into frames:
The frame is kind of mould consisting of a rectangular frame fitted with a tightly stretched coarse cloth called 'Khandi' or 'Gharbuna' , now a days people use nylon strainer type cloths. The casting of pulp is done usually near a stream or pond because plenty of water is need for the purpose. A small water pit is made near the source of water. Now, the paper maker places the wooden or zinc frame just on the surface of water in the pit and pours over it a pot full of pulp. This pot is a kind of measure which helps to take out the required quantity of pulp. The thickness or thinness of paper depends upon the quantity of pulp taken in the pot.
As soon as the pulp is poured over the frame, the worker gives swinging movement to the frame so that the pulp may spread uniformly over the stretched cloth on the frame. Any foreign body still sticking on the surface of the cloth net is removed. After this , the frame is taken out of the water.
i) Drying & folding of the paper:
The frame with the layer of the pulp is now taken away for drying. This drying is done in two ways , the simple process is sun drying which involves no expenses. The frames are kept exposed to the sun. They are kept in a slanting position. So as to help them receive the maximum sun light.The other process is if the weather is cloudy, the drying is done lighting fire and placing the frames all around the fire.
When the papers are perfectly dry , they are slowly removed from the frames, and then folded and made it into bundles, called Dheps 'Kori'. Usually, it is a practice to place 200 pieces of paper in one Dheps or Kori. Then they are brought & sold to the cities like Kathmandu where they are converted into various paper products.