Paper from Worm Food
Jet Balloon
Posted: January 01, 2023
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    A worker soaks mulberry tree branches at the Meros paper factory. Soaking is the first step to turn the branches into paper. (Sergey Pyatakov/Sputnik via AP)
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    A worker boils the branch fibers. (Sergey Pyatakov/Sputnik via AP)
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    Workers spread and dry the paper pulp. (Sergey Pyatakov/Sputnik via AP)
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    The paper is ready to use. (Sergey Pyatakov/Sputnik via AP)
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Want to make paper the Uzbekistan way?

 Soak mulberry branches for one day. The bark gets gooey. Scrape it off with a knife.

Now, boil! Let the bark fiber bubble for several hours. Pound it into doughy pulp.

Dry and soak the pulp for days. Next, press it into paper sheets.

Polish the paper with a stone or shell. This will remove the bumps.

Congratulations! You made “silk paper.” Almost no one in the world remembers this valuable skill. People in present-day Uzbekistan started making the unique paper 14 centuries ago.

You’ll find the Meros paper factory in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Khababa Pulatova works there. He tells the story of the papermaking. “The Arabs fought with the Chinese,” he says. “Then the Arabs won. They captured Chinese soldiers, and among them there were scientists, there were artisans, and . . . a soldier who knew the secrets of paper[making].”

Mr. Pulatova says craftsmen restored the art of making this paper in the 1990s. Now customers want Samarkand paper again.

Why is the paper called silk? It comes from silkworm food—mulberry trees. Plus, it’s smooth and shiny like silk.

The moniker also makes sense because the paper was carried along the Silk Road. (The Silk Road was an old, old route. It led from Asia to the Mediterranean Sea. People carried goods and ideas—like the gospel!—to new places on the Silk Road.)

Meros papermakers don’t use fancy technology or chemicals. Their paper comes out naturally yellowish. It looks old. But it’s not going to decay anytime soon. Evidence shows it lasts for centuries!

But He answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” — Matthew 4:4

Why? God valued skilled craftspeople in the making of His place of worship.  (See Exodus 36.) We benefit today from the skills of many, and others benefit from our talents too!