Paper is one of the most primitive materials used for Packaging, Art, Entertainment and Communication, and has been since its invention, almost 2000 years ago. Paper is the most cost-effective material to use for Crafts, Handmade Decorations, and all types of Stationary. It is the source of most creativity & innovation, in one form or another, and has inspired and educated more people than we can ever imagine!
Some Historians speculate that Paper was a key element in cultural advancement, as most of History, as we know it, cultures, stories & legends were first captured and kept since writing paper became widespread only in the 3rd Century AD. It took more than 2000 years, after the invention of writing paper, for humankind to develop writing & reading skills and to become educated.
The first paper-making process was developed in China during the early 2nd Century. It is considered to be one of the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China.
During the early dynasties (1600 BC – 256 BC) of Ancient China, documents were originally written on bone or bamboo strips sewn together into scrolls, making them very heavy & awkward to transport.
In Ancient Egypt, history, important people and events were set in Clay Tablets. The first advances toward a more portable writing medium (as clay tablets were difficult to transport) were made by the Egyptians. The word ‘Paper’ derives from the Greek term used for ‘Papyrus’, an Egyptian writing material made from beaten strips of the Papyrus Plant. The Egyptians discovered the Papyrus-making process as early as 2500 BC, and traded with Ancient Greece & Rome.
In Time, animal skins & parchment replaced Papyrus and although very expensive, a light material of Silk was also sometimes used. Writing Paper was finally invented by the Chinese in about 100 AD.
Paper is described as a flat sheet or tissue, usually made from plant fibre. Chinese Paper was originally a mixture of Bark and hemp. A thousand years later, paper was introduced to Europe, and Flax was used with hemp instead. Paper was only being produced in America by 1690.
The advent of steam-driven paper-making machines and printing presses, together with the invention of the practical fountain pen & the mass produced pencil, wood-based paper caused a major transformation in the 19th Century.
And so, through 1900 years of development, we are now able to write love-letters, read newspapers, keep diaries and communicate with the world around us!
Did you Know?
Before Paper became writable, it was used for the purpose of wrapping & padding protection for delicate bronze mirrors. It was also used for safety, such as padding of poisonous ‘medicine’, as mentioned in the official history of the Period.
Toilet paper was used by at least the 6th century AD. An Arab traveler to China wrote in 851 AD: ‘They (the Chinese) are not careful about cleanliness, and they do not wash themselves with water when they have done their necessities, but they only wipe themselves with paper’. For the Emporer’s Family, toiletpaper was made in a light yellow tint and even perfumed.
More than a 1 000 years later, plain old toilet paper is something on everybody’s shopping list!