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Japanese Paper


At the beginning of the second century AD, Cai Lun, a eunuch of the Han court, observed a gossamer-like material on a coastal pebbled beach where it had dried after being offered up by the tides. Perhaps an old hemp fishing net pulverised in the saline solution over the years. This was the origin of papermaking and Cai Lun produced the first early sheets of paper from mulberry and hemp fibres.

Later in 610AD a Korean monk took this skill with him to Japan, where it flourished and became an elevated craft form. The Silk Route was the next conduit for the spread of papermaking into the Islamic world; Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and finally the Iberian Peninsula and into Europe. These regions had access to local or imported fibres of cotton, hemp, abaca, & European flax (Linum Usitatissimum).

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