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Postcards from Uzbekistan: Samarkand's lost art of papermaking

Postcards from Uzbekistan: Samarkand's lost art of papermaking
By Seamus Kearney

This week in Postcards, the lost art of papermaking in Samarkand.

It is in a small factory known as Meros that a centuries-old tradition is being revived.

The paper made here was considered to be among the finest in the world, and today the Mukhtarov brothers are producing the same products by hand.

Key facts about Uzbekistan:

  • It’s in Central Asia, with neighbours including Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan & Tajikistan
  • With a population of more than 30 million, the ex-Soviet republic became independent in 1991
  • The total land area is 425,400 km2, with plains covering about four fifths of the territory
  • The average winter temperature is -6 degrees celsius and in summer it rises above 32
  • Almost 80 percent of the population is Uzbek and the main religion is Muslim (88 percent)

Kneeling beside a small canal full of branches, Euronews’ Seamus Kearney reported: “And this is where it all begins, branches from mulberry trees soaked for 10 days.

“And then it’s the next step: the bark stripped off by hand, ready for the two-week process of being turned into paper.”

Visitors get the chance to see every delicate stage, including the pressing and polishing of the paper.

Samarkand guide Romiz Ahrorov told Postcards: “Today we still use an ancient grinding mechanism, which has been used for more than 2,000 years, to grind the inner bark into a mushy substance.”

And at the end of the fascinating process are top quality products, able to withstand the passage of time over hundreds of years.

360° views of the wonders of Samarkand