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                Learn Chinese - History and Culture

                ?????????????? Bamboo Sheet, Silk, Paper
                (zàozhǐshù 造紙術) is one of the four great inventions in ancient China. Before papermaking technology was invented, the Chinese carved or wrote caharacters on totoise shells, animal bones, bamboo slices, wooden plates, and thin tough silk. Tortoise shells, animal bones and wooden plates were too heavy to use while silk was too expensive. In the early years of the Western Han Dynasty (xīhàn 西漢) (206 BC – 25AD), someone used hemp and ranie to produce the paper, which was very rough and not suitable for writing.

                Process of PapermakingTill the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220)(dōnghàn 東漢), an official named Cai Lun (càilún 蔡倫) attached to the Imperial court during the Han Dynasty (hàncháo 漢朝)(202 - 220 ), created a sheet of paper using mulberry and other bast fibres along with fishnets, old rags, and hemp waste. He steamed and cooked all those materials with water, and pounded them into pulp, then rolled the pulp out evenly on a fine screen and dried it into a kind of thin paper. The paper was suitable for writing and was also very cheap so it became very popular. Therefore, Cai Lun’ contribution to the papermaking was great.

                altAfter the Eastern Han Dynasty, the papermaking technology had been gradually improved. And then bamboo, straw and sugarcane residue could also be used as the raw materials for making paper. Due to different materials, various types of paper were produced for different uses. For example, the Xuan paper (xuānzhǐ 宣紙) made in Xuanzhou (xuānzhōu 宣州)of Anhui (ānhūi 安徽) Province belongs to the high-quality paper exclusively adapted for use in Chinese calligraphy and painting.

                The technology was introduced to Korea and Japan in the late Sui (suí 隋)(581-618) and early Tang (táng 唐)(618-907) dynasties, and later to Arabia and other countries. During the Tang Dynasty paper was folded and sewn into square bags to preserve the flavor of tea, while the later Song Dynasty (sòng 宋)(960-1279) was the first government on Earth to issue paper-printed money.

                The invention of paper provides a more convenient way for the storage and communication of information, and also has an epoch-making significance on the promotion the development of global civilization.

                ????? 造紙術是中國古代四大發明之一。在造紙術發明以前,中國人把字刻在龜甲、獸骨上,寫在竹片、木片和絹帛上。 甲骨、木片都很笨重,用起來不方便;絹帛太貴,一般人用不起。大約在西漢初期,有人用大麻和苧麻造出了紙。這種早期的紙比較粗糙,不太適合寫字。?????Cai Lun


                ????? 東漢以后,造紙術得到不斷改進,竹子、稻草、甘蔗渣等都逐漸成為造紙原料。因為原料不同,紙也有了各種不同的種類和用途。安徽省宣州生產的宣紙,就是聞名中外的上等紙張,是用于中國書法和繪畫的珍品。

                ????? 中國的造紙術于隋末唐初傳到朝鮮和日本,后來又傳到阿拉伯地區和其他國家,紙的發明,極大地方便了信息的儲存和交流,對于推動世界聞名的發展具有劃時代地意義。


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