History and invention of paper (China, circa 100)

Theinvention of paper is attributed to the Chinese, who developed it around AD 100 from mulberry bark and exploited it for nearly five centuries before introducing it to Japan around AD 610. The process is relatively simple: first, the dissolution of the raw material in water, in the form of fibers, then its transformation into sheets by drying on a porous surface ...

The invention of paper: a Chinese find

The oldest known and still extant paper was made from rags in the Han dynasty, around 150 AD. J.-C, and seems to result from the involuntarily prolonged soaking of hemp rags and scraps. Subsequently, the material used was probably mulberry bark and the paper was made on a mold made of bamboo strips. In the second century of our era, the high official of the imperial court Cai Lun would be at the origin of the improvement of the papermaking technique.

Paper quickly became a new alternative to wood, papyrus, bone, parchment and fabric for writing. For about five hundred years, the art of paper was reserved for China, but in 610, the secret of papermaking was passed on to Japan, and then to Central Asia around 750. Paper first appeared in Egypt in 9th century, but it was not made there before the 10th century.

Paper comes to Europe

It is then found in Spain, introduced by the Moors, where it was made in the 12th century before spreading throughout Europe and becoming more democratic, in particular thanks to a kind of antique typewriter developed by Gutenberg. This find then allows the massive printing of books. The use of paper mills allows an increase in production, especially in the 17th and 18th centuries, and causes significant shortages of cloth. This pushes manufacturers to look for alternatives, but also to reduce manufacturing costs.

These efforts lead to the development of the first pulp manufacturing machine by the French inventor Nicolas robert, in 1798. Then the brothers Henry and Sealy Fourdrinier improved the process in 1803. It was not until 1840 and the invention of the mechanical pulping process to reduce raw material costs. Ten years later, it is the chemical pulp processes that make their appearance.

For further

- The fabulous history of paper, by Michel Vernus. 2004

- The fabulous history of inventions - From mastery of fire to immortality. Dunod, 2018.

Video: Paper. Chinese inventions Hello China #11 (January 2022).