Monday, April 7, 2008


Seriously, it appears that China is the winner of your answer! If you go by the definition of paper, which is a pulpy mixture ofgrasses, wood, rags, fibers, and pulp, with water, then Chinadefinitely wins. Chine wins especially if you don’t count papyrus, apredecessor to paper made by separating layers of papyrus plant, aspaper.Should you consider papyrus to be paper, then Egypt wins the honor ofbeing the first place paper was used. But papyrus is NOT paper, andwas used just as bark, leaves, and stone tablets were – they carriedthe message, but they were not paper.Should you consider paper an invention, as your question indicates,then China is the winner again, as the papyrus plant was not defines paper as:“A material made of cellulose pulp, derived mainly from wood, rags,and certain grasses, processed into flexible sheets or rolls bydeposit from an aqueous suspension, and used chiefly for writing,printing, drawing, wrapping, and covering walls.” Webster says:“A felted sheet of usually vegetable fibers laid down on a fine screenfrom a water suspension”“The need for paper began when man first started to record traditions,religion, and legal documents. Before papermaking, materials such asclay nails, papyrus, pounded bark, silk and parchment were used torecord information, but none of these materials were either portableor cost-effective enough to mass-produce. Paper began in China asearly as 200 BC, where the oldest known paper was used for a prayerfound embedded in an adobe brick that was used to bless a home. Thepaper was made from recycled fishing nets, bamboo and hemp.” to PaperOnline, it appears that China was the first place touse tapa paper. At least it is the earliest FOUND paper so far:“Of all the writing and drawing materials that people have employeddown the ages, paper is the most widely used around the world. Itsname derives from papyrus the material used by the ancient Egyptians,Greeks and Romans. Papyrus, however, is only one of the predecessorsof paper that together are known by the generic term ‘tapa’ and aremostly made from the inner bark of paper mulberry, fig and daphne.”“Tapa has been found extensively in nearly all cultures along theEquatorial belt and is made by what is possibly the oldest papermakingtechnique – one still practised in some parts of the Himalayas andSouth East Asia. Indeed, recent archaeological excavations in Chinahave revealed some of the oldest ‘tapa’ paper ever found which showsthat paper was being produced in China before western records began.” to Inventors.About, China is the first place paper was used.“A courtier named Ts'ai-Lun, from Lei-yang in China, was the inventorof paper (not papyrus) circa 105 A.D. However, the word paper isderived from the name of the reedy plant papyrus, which growsabundantly along the Nile River in Egypt. Paper is made of pulpedcellulose fibers like wood, cotton or flax. Papyrus is made from thesliced sections of the flower stem of the papyrus plant, pressedtogether and dried.”, the Technical Association of worldwide pulp, paper, andconverting industry gives credit to the Chinese:“The Chinese government official and scholar is grinding up plants -mulberry bark, linen and hemp. He makes a big wet mush of separatefibers, then spreads it all out in a mat made of coarse cloth and abamboo frame.It looks like he's got a mess on his hands, and chances are hisfamily, friends and neighbors are making fun of him. But when he'sdone, and the sun has dried the matted material, he's made somethingreally remarkable.Ts'ai Lun, 2,000 years ago, has made paper, and it will become one ofthe most important inventions ever.Even though archaeological evidence shows that paper may have beenmade even a little earlier, Ts'ai Lun was the first to have hisefforts recorded. Like many inventors through the centuries, he builtupon the work of others.Okay, people had written even before paper was invented. Theyscratched on cave walls, painted too, and drew characters on wet clay.They even wrote on papyrus made from thinly-sliced papyrus reed whichthey glued together to make a sheet.”“The word "paper" is derived from the word "papyrus," which was aplant found in Egypt along the lower Nile River. About 5,000 yearsago, Egyptians created "sheets" of papyrus by harvesting, peeling andslicing the plant into strips. The strips were then layered, poundedtogether and smoothed to make a flat, uniform sheet.No major changes in writing materials were to come for about 3,000years. The person credited with inventing paper is a Chinese man namedTs'ai Lun. He took the inner bark of a mulberry tree and bamboofibers, mixed them with water, and pounded them with a wooden tool. Hethen poured this mixture onto a flat piece of coarsely woven cloth andlet the water drain through, leaving only the fibers on the cloth.Once dry, Ts'ai Lun discovered that he had created a quality writingsurface that was relatively easy to make and lightweight. Thisknowledge of papermaking was used in China before word was passedalong to Korea, Samarkand, Baghdad, and Damascus.” “The first historical mention of paper is 104 A.D. in China. TheEmpress of China at that time loved books and wanted to have a lot ofthem made. At the time everything was written on silk scrolls whichwere extremely expensive and time consuming to make. She wantedsomething cheaper and easier to use and so she asked one of herservants, a gentleman by the name of Tsi Lun to come up with analternative. He worked for over nine years experimenting withdifferent things and finally came up with hemp, mulberry tree bark,silk and old fishing nets all ground up into a mushy pulp. I wonderhow he ever thought of it; the history books don't say. The Empresswas very pleased and Tsi Lun was elevated to a high rank in the court.Unfortunately for him, the Empress then asked Tsi Lun to spreadmalicious gossip about some of her enemies at court. When the Empressfell out of power, those people were extremely angry with Tsi Lun andhe was either put to death or forced to commit suicide.Strange, isn't it, how things go in the world? And, of course, all of this that I am sharing with you is just one version of history. Others will perhaps be able to give a different rendering. I haveread many. I like the story of Tsi Lun. Most people agree on thatone. But, as for the spread of papermaking as an art, well, there aredifferent stories told. To gather such accounts and compare them fallswithin the discipline of "Historiography", the history of the writingof history. (If you ever want to scamble your brains and loose allconcept of the solidity of reality, just study the hisotry writing ofhistory.) The following, I believe, is most likely closest to thetruth.Papermaking remained a secret Chinese art until around the year 700A.D. when, during a war with China the Arab nations captured an entiretown of papermakers and took them back to the middle east as prisonerswhere they were forced into labor making paper. The craft was learneda couple hundred years later by Western Europeans during the Crusades.Curiously, the Church in Western Europe initially banned the use ofpaper calling it a 'pagan art' believing that animal parchment was theonly thing 'holy' enough to carry the Sacred Word. That strange prejudice lasted for more than 100 years, but they got over it.” (This may not be a highly reliable source, but it was interesting!)

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