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Manila paper is a relatively inexpensive type of paper, generally made through a less refined process than other types of paper. It is typically made from semi-bleached wood fibres. It is not as strong as kraft paper but has better printing qualities. Manila is buff-coloured and the fibres are usually visible to the naked eye. Because this paper is generally inexpensive, it is commonly given to children for making art.
Manila paper was originally made out of old Manila Hemp ropes which were extensively used on ships, having replaced true hemp. It was made from Manila hemp (also called abacá) or Musa textilis which is grown in the Philippines and hence the association with Manila, the capital of that country. Abaca is an exceptionally strong fibre, nowadays used for special papers like teabag tissue. It is also very expensive, priced several times higher than woodpulp, hence the change to that fibre for what is still called Manilla - usually with two "ll"s. More recently new woodpulp has often been replaced with a high proportion of recycled fibre. True manila hemp folders would have been much tougher and long lasting than modern folders.
Manila is most commonly used for making file folders. Some fashion schools and people in the fashion industry use large rolls of Manila to create finalised clothing patterns.
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