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Xuan Paper Making Techniques

Paper-making is one of the four great inventions of China. Xuan paper, or rice paper, is one of "the four study treasures" (writing brush, ink stick, ink slab, paper), and is the outstanding representative of traditional handmade paper with a history more than 1500 years.

Around the beginning of Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD), a fine paper was made from rice plants in Jing County, Anhui Province. Jing County was called Xuan at that time, so the paper was named xuan paper, known as rice paper to the rest of the world. The craft of making rice paper was fully developed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) with an increased number of varieties. In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD), the paper industry grew rapidly.

Xuan paper has a strong, smooth surface, a pure and clean texture. Because of the paper's resistance to creasing, corrosion, moths and mould, it was known for its longevity. There are numerous kinds of Xuan paper, and the quality depends on whether the paper is unprocessed, processed or half-processed.
 
Unprocessed paper, or Shengxuan, absorbs water easily, and ink goes through this paper easily, too. Gelatin made from bones and alum is added to make processed paper, or Shuxuan. This kind of paper does not absorb water easily and it is stiff and hard to the touch. . Half-processed paper has a neutral character in that it absorbs water, but it does not easily disintegrate.

Xuan paper is produced in Jing County, Anhui Province. The mild climate and abundant rainfall provides a favorable environment for the growth of wingceltis, and rice - plants used as the raw material for making paper. Making Xuan paper involves more than 140 steps.