It was while researching on ‘must visit places in Uzbekistan’ that I came to know about silk paper for first time. I clearly remember being curious on the thought of visiting the Silk Paper factory in Konigil, after reading fellow travel blogger Sudha G’s account on her blog (read here). Many thoughts came to my mind – Would it too touristy kind of thing, leaving me disappointed? Would it be as interesting as Sudha wrote about it? The visit to Silk Paper Factory in Konigil was kept at the last segment of our Samarkand trip itinerary and it turned out to be a nice experience.

The Silk Paper Factory at Konigil is located about 10 km from Samarkand, by the bank of River Siab. Officially, it’s called the Meros Silk Paper Factory and is a family run unit. During our visit, we got to see the process of producing silk paper, it’s benefits (ie. Superior quality vis-à-vis regular paper) and also had a wide range of souvenirs to pick from at the shop.

While driving to Konigil village, our guide informed us that due to the exceptional water quality of river Siab flowing by its side, which is used  by the villagers,  people of this particular sub-region of Konigil have high longevity & healthy life even in old age.

Worker stripping pre-soaked mulberry bark at the Silk Paper Factory, Konigil

It was the Great Silk route, which brought Sill Paper making Technology to Samarkand from China, around the 7th or 8th century CE. We were told by the guide that originally, silk paper was made from silk fibres, but today it is made from the bark of mulberry trees.
Water Mill for pounding mulberry silk pulp for paper – Silk Paper Factory in Konigil

Recommended Read : Journey to the Great Silk Route in Uzbekistan

The waters of river Siab flowing in Konigil

Paper. The process starts with strips of mulberry bark being soaked in the waters of the Siab River.  As per the guide at the Silk Factory, waters of  River Siab  is the extra magic which goes into the mulberry bark and  to the production of silk paper. It was certainly very interesting to watch the whole process, which is totally manually done, except the pounding of the mulberry pulp. Now the pounding of the mulberry pulp was also very interesting as it’s done with the help of water mills, run again by the waters of River Siab.

The guide told us that Silk paper has two unique qualities – its waterproof and insect resistant. Also, Silk paper has a very long life span (1000+ years) as compared to normal paper (200+ years). The traditional silk paper making process was revived as part of UNESCO’s Silk Road Project  some decades back and the Silk Paper Factory at Konigil we visited is one of the organisations part of this project.

Mulberry silk pulp being punded using water mill and a bit of human labour
Silk pulp being set in paper screens to be moulded
Polishing of Silk Paper
The final product – Smooth Silk Paper
Different kinds of silk paper products at the Silk Paper Factory Souvenir Shop

A visit to Silk Paper factory in Konigil, is certainly recommended by me on the Great Silk Road Trail in Uzbekistan.

If you liked reading this travelogue, you may find the following interesting:

Khiva in Uzbekistan here.

Bukhara in Uzbekistan here.

Top 10 reasons to visit Uzbekistan here.

Golden Smiles of Uzbeki people here.

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