In Chinese history there are four world-known great inventions – Papermaking, Commercial Printing, Gunpowder, and Compass. The invention of paper making contributed greatly to Chinese culture succession. In earlier ages people carved characters on bamboo slips which function as “book”, which was very burdensome and inconvenient to carry in luggage. But since paper appeared in the West Han Dynasty in 2000 years ago, the situation changes remarkably.
Today the paper can be manufactured in large scale. But in ancient time, it was always by hand. Till today, in Zhangbeicun Village, a small village lies at foot of Qinling Mountain Ranges, some senior villagers can make paper by hand.
It is said in 2000 years ago, when springs of Cai Lun ( the man who invented papermaking technique) passed by Zhangbei Village, they taught the papermaking skill to local people. Since then, local villagers earned their life by making paper. And from the Tang Dynasty to the Wing Dynasty, papers made in Zhangbei Village served as office paper in Chinese government. And was spread to foreign countries like Japan and Korea.
paper mulberry bark produced in Qingling Mountain Ranges is the main material of Zhangbei Village Paper. Villagers collect barks in spring and winter in the mountain. The paper mulberry grow new bark yearly so people can collect bark from the same tree once a year for around 10 years till the bark no longer ideal to make paper. Barks collected in spring looks black, so it is used to make black hemp paper; The barks collected in winter looks white, so people use it to make white hemp paper.
When making paper, the bark would be soaked in water till it gets soft. Then mill it to powder and then mixed with Quicklime water for ferment. Then after several steps like steaming, beating, modeling, and drying, the paper will be done.
At present, Zhangbei Village Paper is the most popular painting paper among Professional painter due to its high quality and ideal halo effect.
If you are interested in hand-making paper, and what to see how it is made, come to Zhangbei Village! The pleasant unique country scenery will be one more surprise to your country tour from Xian!