History of paper

We use the paper every day and we can see it everywhere around us.

Nowadays, despite the enormous technical progress, it is still difficult to imagine everyday life without the invention called paper. We use the paper every day and we can see it everywhere around us. Often the paper is considered as a nature part of our lives without wondering, where it came from, how it is formed and what´s its history.



The paper is considered one of the four greatest inventions of ancient China, which also include the gunpowder, the compass and typography. Humankind has always had the desire and the need to record their thoughts and experiences and keep them for generations. Before the invention of this light, comfortable and compact material the wooden and clay plates or even stone were used for font writing or drawing pictures. Obviously, these aids were not space-saving and portable and ravages of time render it worthless.

The closest to the invention of paper were the ancient Egyptians who invented papyrus approximately 5,000 years ago. Papyrus was produced from sedge straws which can grow up to the height of 5m. The straws got rid of the upper layer and then the uncovered brittle pulp, it was cut into thin strips of 1 to 2 mm thickness. These strips were soaked for several days in water and then moulded gently. The formed sheet was kept dry and used to writing. However, this papyrus was quite brittle and easily broken. It is evident that ancient Egyptians hard pressed to shape the substance carefully, that means the basic processes – cook or grind.



The paper was reportedly invented around the third millennium BC in China and the basic raw material for the production of cannabis were used linen or silk cloths. However, as the real inventor of paper is considered the Chinese Minister Cchaj Lun from province of Hunan, who made the new raw material, ie. paper substance, from bast of branches of mulberry in 105 after Christ. The Pulp he prepared by boiling of appropriate plants, which he later machined and turned to mush. The obtained pulp he poured onto a thin bamboo net, then he strained water and there was thicken fiber layer made and the wet sheet arise. After it was separated softly from the net. Then the sheet was dried freely and after a lapse of time it was compressed and partially smoothed.

The Chinese understood quickly the importance of the invention of paper, so they kept the secret until early VII. Century, when the paper was expanded to Japan and then to Korea. Then in mid VIII. Century the secret was literally seized by the Arabs, who captured several Chinese paper masters in 751 in the battle of Samorkand. Those master eventually taught them how to produce paper and in the following years, the paper expanded into Asian countries and subsequently across Africa it got to Europe. The first workshops for the production of paper originated in Spain in XII. Century. During XV. Century the paper was began produce also in Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and England. The first paper mill in Bohemia was built probably in the second half of XIV. Century in Cheb. The rapid boom of paper production occurred in Bohemia during the XVI. Century, when there was gradually established about 20 paper mills.



Until extension of paper in Europe there was the parchment used as a material for the production of books and writing. The parchment began to produce in times of King Emanuelle II. (197-159 BC) and it was named after the small Asian city of Pergamon. It was made from the skins of young animals, such as sheep, pigs, goats and others. The skin got rid of hair and dipped in chalky solution for one or two weeks. Subsequently, the skin was stretched on a frame and dried. Then the parchment was machinated the surface and smoothed. The disadvantage of parchment was the fact it was quite expensive. Therefore, often the original text was scraped out from the sheet and used again. Parchment paper was finally pushed out by the commencement of the paper in XIII. Century.


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