The Story Of Paper (Part 1)
The invention of paper transformed society. Paper today is used to create bank notes, newspapers, bandages, books; even if we don’t always notice it, it’s an integral part of our everyday lives.
Ever wondered or thought about the origins of paper and it’s making that changed civilization so drastically? This versatile material has an in depth and fascinating history that goes back as far as the 2nd century.
We go right to the beginning of this creation to find out more about how it became one of mankind’s most important inventions.
WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
It’s difficult to give one answer to this question since the invention of paper has been influenced in so many ways to produce the final product we have today.
The word ‘paper’ derives from the Ancient Egyptian writing material called papyrus, which was woven from the stems of the papyrus plant.This material was being produced in Egypt and Greece as early as 3000 BC.
However, many define the origins of standardized,mass-produced paper to China in 105 AD.
For a more thorough answer and look at the evolution of paper, we’ve created a timeline following its key developments.
PRE 105 AD: PRIMITIVE WRITING MATERIALS
Writing was established long before the invention of paper, so humans had to find materials to either carve into or apply ink onto.
Natural resources such as clay, silk, wood, stone and leather were utilized. The Egyptians also used parchment paper. This was made from animal skins, usually sheep or cow. The skin was soaked the skin in water with chalk or flour and then salt was added to give it a smooth surface to write on.
However, in China, many early writings were scribed on long strips of bamboo with ink that was then bound together to make books.
105 AD: CHINA’S STANDARDIZED PAPER
Although these primitive writing materials existed, they were not the most convenient solution. These were often very heavy or, in the case of silk, very expensive.
It was during the 2nd century in China that Ts’ai Lun, a Chinese court official of the Han Dynasty, documented the first modern method of paper making in China. It seems Ts'ai Lun made the paper by mixing finely chopped mulberry bark and cotton/hemp rags with water, mashing it flat, and pressing out the water and drying it in the sun.
Over time, these paper makers experimented and produced a number of different types of paper: sized, coated and dyed. These developments significantly helped China advance as a country. By the 10th century, the Chinese had introduced paper money to their monetary system.
Because of China’s secrecy over their production techniques, other countries throughout Central Asia and the Middle East began didn’t begin setting up paper mills until around the 600 ADs.