papyrusEtymology of the word ‘paper’

The word “paper” originates from Ancient Greek word papyrus. Papyrus is a thick, paper-like material produced from the giant water reed and ancient Egyptians used it for writing long before paper was used in China.

Invention of paper

Historical sources suggest that paper was invented about 2 centuries ago in China by Cai Lun (Ts’ai Lun) who soaked mulberry bark, hemp and china grass and old rags, which contine cellulose, into water, mashed the mixture into pulp, pressed it to have the water extracted,and sun dried on wooden frames the thin sheets he got. It is believed that Cai Lun got the idea by observing bees and wasps make their nests.Cai Lun was widely acknowledged for his invention.

old booksSince paper was not as expensive as silk and easier to make and use than wooden strips it immediately became a more popular alternative to these materials that had been used for centuries. It is credited for spreading literature as books,and newspapers became accessible to everybody. Since the paper was versatile it was used for making a variety of products, from hats to packaging.

paper machineThe art od papermaking reached Korea around 6th century where they mixed fibers of hemp, rattan, mulberry, bamboo, rice straw, and seaweed to get the pulp. The quality of paper changed as different fibers were used. From Korea, this art spread to Japan thanks to a Korean monk. In Japan it was mostly used for official records and documentation until the rise of Buddhism after which the demand for paper grew rapidly.The material was made finer over the centuries as different fibres were experimented with. Bamboo replaced hemp as it grows much quicker and isn’t as expensive. Chinese paper was of such high quality that it was traded to foreign states along the Silk Road.

It wasn’t until 12th century that paper reached Europe and around the same time it started to be used in the first paper money