Time:2013-09-12Source:China Paper Association


Paper is one of the four great inventions of ancient China. Before the invention of paper, characters were written on animal bones, turtle backs or stones. Later, silk and more widely used bamboo slips and wooden tablets were used to record things. The paper made during the western Han Dynasty discovered in a tomb at the Fangmatan site in Tianshui, Gansu Province in 1986 is the earliest paper in the world discovered so far. Cai Lun of the eastern Han Dynasty renovated the previous immature paper making techniques and broadened the choice of raw materials, giving a boost to the development of paper making.

The diversification of raw materials reflected the development of paper making techniques. Before Cai Lun’s innovation of the eastern Han Dynasty, fiber was the main material for paper making and bark was used afterwards. In the middle of the Tang Dynasty, bamboo paper appeared. The invention of bamboo paper greatly diversified raw materials of paper. However, the pulp making involving bamboo was rather difficult and improvements had to be made to increase the efficiency of pulp making. The industrious Chinese people solved this problem way back in the Tang Dynasty. The bamboo pulp paper making method can be regarded as the originator of modern-day wood based paper making.

As the paper making technique was spread to West and East Asia as well as other parts of the world via the Silk Road, the popularization of knowledge among ordinary people was realized and therefore greatly boosted the development of global technology and economy. The invention and spreading of China’s paper making and printing also in a way served as a catalyst for the Renaissance and religious reforms in Europe.