Writing Paper is an invention first made in Lei-Yang, China about 2000 years ago, by Ts’ai Lun, a Chinese court official under Emperor Hedi (88 – 105/106).
Ts’ai came up with the idea of making sheets of paper from a combination of natural ingredients including mulberry bark, hemp and rags with water, mashed it into pulp, pressed out the liquid and hung the thin mat to dry in the sun.
105 A.D. is often cited as the year in which papermaking was invented. In that year, historical records show that the invention of paper was reported to the Eastern Han Emperor Ho-di by Ts’ai Lun, an official of the Imperial Court.
Recent archaeological investigations, however, place the actual invention of papermaking some 200 years earlier. Ts’ai Lun broke the bark of a mulberry tree into fibres and pounded them into a sheet. Later it was discovered that the quality of paper could be much improved with the addition of rags hemp and old fish nets to the pulp.
The paper was soon widely used in China and spread to the rest of world through the Silk Road. An official history written some centuries later explained: In ancient times writing was generally on bamboo or on pieces of silk, which were then called it.
Silk being expensive and bamboo heavy, made these twoich materials not convenient. Then Tsai Lun thought of using tree bark hemp, rags, and fish nets. In 105 he made a report to the emperor on the process of paper making, and received high praise for his ability. From this time paper has been in use everywhere and is called the “paper of Marquis Tsai.”
In few years, the Chinese began to use paper for writing. Around 600 A.D. woodblock printing was invented and by 740 A.D., The first printed newspaper was seen in China.
To the east, papermaking moved to Korea, where production of paper began as early as the 6th century AD. Pulp was prepared from the fibers of hemp, rattan, mulberry, bamboo, rice straw, and seaweed.
According to tradition, a Korean monk named Don-cho brought papermaking to Japan by sharing his knowledge at the Imperial Palace in approximately AD 610, sixty years after Buddhism was introduced in Japan.
Along the Silk Road, we learned that paper was introduced to Xinjiang area very early according to the archaeological records. The paper found at Kaochang, Loulan, Kusha, Kotan, and Dunhuang sites dated as early as the 2nd century.
The technique eventually reached Tibet around 650 A.D. and then to India after 645 A.D. By the time Hsuan Tsang from China arrived to India in 671 A.D., paper was already widely used there.
During the 8th century, about 300 years after Ts’ai’s discovery, the secret traveled to the region that is now the Middle East. Yet, it took another 500 years for papermaking to enter Europe. One of the first paper mills was built in Spain, and soon, paper was being made at mills all across Europe.
Then, with writing paper easier to make, paper was used for printing important books, bibles, and legal documents.
England began making large supplies of paper in the late 15th century and supplied the colonies with writing paper for many years.
Finally, in 1690, the first U.S. paper mill was built in Pennsylvania. At first American paper mills used the Chinese method of shredding old rags and clothes into individual fibers to make paper.
But, as the demand for paper grew, the mills changed to using fiber from trees because wood was less expensive and more abundant than cloth. Today, paper is made from trees grown in sustainably managed forests and from recycled paper.
When you recycle your used paper, paper mills will use it to make new notebook paper, paper grocery bags, cardboard boxes, envelopes, magazines, cartons, newspapers and other paper products.