Hand-made Paper in Beizhang Village
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’s succession. In earlier ages, people carved characters on bamboo slips which functioned as “books”, which were very burdensome and inconvenient to carry in luggage. But since paper appeared in the West Han Dynasty in 2000 years ago, the situation has changed remarkably.
Today paper can be manufactured on a large scale. But in ancient times, it was always by hand. Till today, in Beizhangcun Village, a small village that lies at the foot of the Qinling Mountain Ranges, some senior villagers can make paper by hand.
It is said that 2000 years ago when springs of Cai Lun ( the man who invented the papermaking technique) passed by Beizhang Village, they taught the papermaking skill to local people. Since then, local villagers earned their lives by making paper. From the Tang Dynasty to the Wing Dynasty, papers made in Beizhang Village served as office papers for the 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 Beizhang Village Paper. Villagers collect bark in spring and winter in the mountains. The paper mulberry grows new bark yearly so people can collect bark from the same tree once a year for around 10 years until the bark is no longer ideal for making paper. Barks collected in spring look black, so it is used to make black hemp paper; The bark 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 mix it with Quicklime water for fermentation. Then after several steps like steaming, beating, modeling, and drying, the paper will be done.
At present, Beizhang Village Paper is the most popular painting paper among Professional painters due to its high quality and ideal halo effect.
If you are interested in hand-making paper, and want to see how it is made, come to Beizhang Village! The pleasant unique country scenery will be one more surprise to your country tour from Xian!