The History of Paper

Paper making is one of the inventions by Chinese. 105 A.D. is often cited as the year in which papermaking was invented. In that year, historical records show that the invention of paper was reported to the Eastern Han Emperor Ho-di by Ts'ai Lun, an official of the Imperial Court. Recent archaeological investigations, however, place the actual invention of papermaking some 200 years earlier. Ts'ai Lun broke the bark of a mulberry tree into fibres and pounded them into a sheet. Later it was discovered that the quality of paper could be much improved with the addition of rags hemp and old fish nets to the pulp. The paper was soon widely used in China and spread to the rest of world through the Silk Road. An official history written some centuries later explained: In ancient times writing was generally on bamboo or on pieces of silk, which were then called ji. But silk being expensive and bamboo heavy, these twoich materials were not conveninet. Then Tsai Lun thought of using tree bark,n hemp, rags, and fish nets. In 105 he made a report to the emperor on the process of paper making, and received high praise for his ability. From this time paper has been in use everywhere and is called the "paper of Marquis Tsai."

In few years, the Chinese began to use paper for writing. Around 600 A.D. woodblock printing was invented and by 740 A.D., The first printed newspaper was seen in China.

To the east, papermaking moved to Korea, where production of paper began as early as the 6th century AD. Pulp was prepared from the fibers of hemp, rattan, mulberry, bamboo, rice straw, and seaweed. According to tradition, a Korean monk named Don-cho brought papermaking to Japan by sharing his knowledge at the Imperial Palace in approximately AD 610, sixty years after Buddhism was introduced in Japan.

Along the Silk Road, we learned that paper was introduced to Xinjiang area very early according to the archaeological records. The paper found at Kaochang, Loulan, Kusha, Kotan, and Dunhuang sites dated as early as the 2nd. century. The technique eventaully reached Tibet around 650 A.D. and then to India after 645 A.D. By the time Hsuan Tsang from China arrived to India in 671 A.D., paper was already widely used there.

For a long time the Chinese closely guarded the secret of paper manufacture and tried to eliminate other Oriental centers of production to ensure a monopoly. However in 751 A.D. the T'ang army was defeated by the Ottoman Turks at a mighty battle at the Talas River. Some Chinese soldiers and paper makers were captured and brought to Samarkand. The Arabs learned the paper making from the Chinese prisoners and built the first paper industry in Baghdad in 793 A.D. They, too, kept it a secret, and Europeans did not learn how to make paper until several centuries later. The Egyptians learned the paper making from the Arabs during the early 10th century. Around 1100 A.D. paper arrived in Northern Africa and by 1150 A.D. it arrived to Spain as a result of the crusades and established the first paper industry in Europe. In 1453 A.D. Johann Gutenberg invents the printing press. The first paper industry in the North America was built in Philadelphia in 1690.

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