Saa paper is never identical even it was made by the same person. Mulberry paper in Thailand is one of the purest forms of handmade products made by local for locals in every step of its production - Parita Nobthai of @thecrafthumpy
Have you ever imagined that paper can last for 200 years? Behind the beautiful design of Saa paper, one of the well-known local products made in Thailand, is its attribute of longevity which can last longer than our lifetime. This also has the added benefit of protecting the natural colours of plants and flowers, which are embedded during its manufacturing, for at least 1 year. Its strength and special length of fibre make it more beneficial to various types of Thai handicrafts; handbags, boxes, umbrellas, thongs and even bridal gowns.
Mulberry paper, known in Thai as “Saa”, is the best fibre used for making paper because of its strength, and longevity. There is evidence of this shown in the Buddhist scripts made from Saa in Lanna temple in Payao province Thailand, which has an age of more than 200 years.The light brown bark of the Saa-tree or mulberry tree (Broussonetia Papyrifera Vent) which is locally found in the northern part of Thailand and Lao is used to make Saa paper. The local wisdom of paper making originated from these areas were used for a variety of applications including Buddhist scripts, temple decorations at festivals, floating lanterns, lamp, umbrellas, fans and flag making.
The village of Saa paper, Bann Ton Poa, Chaing Mai
Bann Ton Pao was originally an agricultural community but they also made mulberry paper when they had free time during their harvest season. The local wisdom of making mulberry paper has conveyed from their ancestor “Tai Khern” who migrated to the northern part of Thailand from China's southwestern Yunnan province. Even if the villagers have similar techniques, each household has developed their own signature process, which differentiates Saa paper from others and that has become the uniqueness of mulberry paper.
Basically, the Saa making process consists of two mains parts. The first part is the preparation of mulberry fibre and the second part is shaping and decorating the paper. Both steps require technique, experience and creativity to produce good-quality mulberry paper for customers. Some households usually take care of the first part and then send it onto others in the village to complete the second part. Saa paper is never identical even it was made by the same person. Mulberry paper in Thailand is one of the purest forms of handmade products made by local for locals in every step of its production.
First step: preparation of mulberry fibre – make it last long
Second step: shaping and decoration paper – make it beautiful
The mulberry we get from the previous process will have a naturally rough surface. However, if a smooth surface is preferred, adjust the metal-curved bucket to softly rub against the surface of the paper (see the difference in the pictures below).
Technology, mulberry paper and other fibres you couldn’t imagine
Jinnaluck, the founder of Jinnaluck Co,Ltd took Saa making paper to the next level by combining technology, creativity and local wisdom. She applied the same technique of making mulberry paper with other local plant fibres such as ginger, galangal, Torch ginger, sugarcane, water hyacinth, banana, bird of paradise and lemongrass. Each plant has its advantage such as Vertiver grass which is good for making a smooth surface and easy to find in Thailand, Hemp is best for making hats or clothes as it provides UV protection and Saa ‘s long fibre is good for combining other fibre or materials. She also applied waterproofing, fire protection and anti mould to mulberry-paper products to extend the utility of the paper which leads to an extensive ranges of products; thongs, coaster, handbags and wallpaper.
Saa paper making is a discovery handed down from generation to generation. The longevity, strength and uniqueness of Saa paper are created from local people who put their own techniques to make each paper individual and beautiful in its own way. The development of techniques and experimentation with new designs requires a person who is deeply involved in paper making and that is what make mulberry or Saa paper outstanding. This entices people to participate in making their own Mulberry paper in Thailand to enjoy a truly memorable lifetime experience.
Parita Nobthai runs The Craft Humpy
"a homely place where you can get beautiful handcrafted gifts directly from the maker"
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