Attractive, long-lasting and versatile, Nepal's Lokta paper is widely used and highly sought after both in the country and abroad. From official government documents to lamp shades, Lokta is a paper for all seasons.
Recently, while on a visit to a government office in Kathmandu, I'd happened to comment on the dreary stacks of paperwork that make up such an integral part of the operations in such places. I'd wondered how these files and documents survived all that rough handling and neglect. It was a friend who'd made me wise to the fact that government offices here use a specific type of paper, popular especially for its durability. I didn't know it at the time, but what she was referring to was 'Lokta' paper.
Despite facing stiff competition from far inferior (and cheaper) reproductions, Nepali pashmina has stood the test of time and persevered. Now, after being rebranded as Chyangra Pashmina, it is up to the industry to innovate and maintain its fabled quality.
The image of a lone mountain goat, high in the Himalayas, is perhaps the farthest one can get from luxury. But it's from the soft inner coat of the chyangra, as the goat is locally called, that we acquire the highly coveted and deluxe pashmina fibre. This very fine wool, measuring around 13 to 17 microns in diameter, is collected from the fleece of these animals that live more than 3000 meters above sea level. The outer coat is discarded and only the finest inner material, also known as the 'Diamond fibre', is used. This is what makes Nepali pashmina an internationally renowned and coveted luxury item.