Vietnam News

Nepalese paper keeps its natural edge

date 04/04/2018 view 538
VietNamNet - Today, handmade Nepalese paper (giay do/papyrus) costs 10 times as much as run of the mill papers. But it’s really good news for a few Do paper makers living in small villages of the Red River Delta of Vietnam as from now on, they can line a brighter future with handmade paper.

 Nguyen Duy, a veteran poet, took a handful of unsuspecting Americans by surprise when he exhibited his photographs and poems printed on Do paper, with a little sponsorship by Hewlett – Packard. Some foreign companies in Hanoi are even having their stationary hand-made by craftsmen in Bac Ninh is also testimony the popularity of Do paper. 


Material first goes through a careful hand...

The handful of villages still engage in the traditional craft of making Do paper. Between Duong O village in Bac Ninh province, Yen Thai and Ho village in Hanoi production had nearly passed into the oblivion of time, with each village having only one household producing Do paper, understandably at quite a small quantity.  But Duong O – Bac Ninh, 28km from Hanoi, is the last bastion where four or five families make their living exclusively through hand making paper from the bark of the Do tree. Thanks to its popularity there are permanent sources of consumption, they are able to keep in this age-old line of work.
There are 20 steps to complete the Do paper production process. The catalyst that glues the paper pulp, as it must also be natural, is made from a kind of latex. The pasty pulp is poured into a basin for rinsing (seo).  Pulp is then rinsed through a very thin bamboo sheet. When the sheet is dipped in water, the pulp spreads evenly across the surface of the blind, and then gently placed on the “wet” paper pile.  The blind is slowly lifted to rinse another “batch”. Around 1,000 pieces of paper are pressed at one time, taking about 5 hours. The sheets of average weight will be stripped one by one from the pile. To make heavier grade papers, craftsmen can strip the paper one-ply, two-ply or even ten-ply as per demand. For higher quality paper, a broom made of pine needles is used to fix wet sheets to a wall as soon as they are stripped from the pressing pile.


... then to make paper at the workshop...

Customers of Duong O village all have the same ambition, to produce a paper sample that “no one else has”. The two most important factors of pattern and size are essential in this pursuit of paper perfection. Even the smallest paper samples, a meek 4X6 cm, must also go through every one of the 20 steps the bigger sheets do. It wouldn’t do to cut big pieces into small ones, as the handmade paper will lose its natural edges.  Artisans in Duong O village are forever striving to create new designs for their Do paper. They work in the shapes of trees, grasses, leaves and roots between different layers or dye the veins to work aesthetic variation across the whole sheet. However, the methods by which they attain such colour arrays are inherited secrets, which are never revealed to outsiders.

... and here becomes the high quality art paper to customer

Story and photos by Minh Nguyen

Source: VNEXpress

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