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 China was the first country in the world to make proper paper. Paper made during the Western Han Dynasty has been found in Gansu Province, Xi´an and other places in Shaanxi Province as well as Xinjiang. A further development of paper is credited to Cai Lun of the Eastern Han.

Part 1

China is famous for four ancient inventions; perhaps the most significant of them is paper. The man who invented paper, Cai Lun, is counted among the most influential people of all time. But what did the Chinese write on, before Cai Lun’s great invention? And where did he get his inspiration? Pleased stay tuned for the first part of a brand new series, “The Story of Paper”.

Part 2

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The man who invented paper, Cai Lun, is still widely revered. Not so in his lifetime, however. It would take hundreds of years before his great invention was widely embraced. What do modern experts think caused this reluctance to use paper? Would an analysis of the composition of an ancient fragment reveal the answer? Find out, in the second episode of “The Story of Paper”.

 

Part 3

A piece of calligraphy written in the fourth century is generally considered to be the finest ever produced. But was the paper it was written on, part of the reason for its fame? The original of this masterpiece has been lost; but other works of calligraphy have managed to survive for over a thousand years. What were the techniques that ensured the paper’s longevity? Find out in the third part of “The Story of Paper”.

Part 4

From the traditional line drawings of the Han Dynasty, through the post-Song splash-ink style of freehand brushwork, and up until the present day, Chinese painting and calligraphy has been influenced by the paper it was done on. In art and paper circles, the name Xuan is associated with the finest quality. But where did Xuan paper originate? Find the answer in the fourth part of the series, “The Story of Paper”.

Part 5

Paper, having been invented in China, spread to Japan. There, and in other parts of Asia, it was further refined. And yet, in Europe the belief persisted that paper had originated in Europe itself, or the Arab world.

Part 6

Even as late as the 18th century, Europe’s paper-makers realized that they still had a lot to learn from China, the country where paper-making originated. In America, the great statesman Benjamin Franklin even wrote a thesis on Chinese paper-making.

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