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Traditional Handicrafts of Making Xuan Paper


While paper is listed among the four greatest inventions of ancient China, one type of paper is the finest material for Chinese calligraphy and painting. Crowned as “King of Papers” sometimes, Xuan paper is known for the strength, cleanliness and smoothness of its surface, the water/ink-absorbing ability of the texture, durability and resistance to creasing, corrosion, moths and mould. The traditional process of making Xuan paper has passed down the generations for centuries. Over a hundred steps are involved, all of which are strictly hand-made: steeping, washing, fermenting, bleaching ,pulping, sunning and cutting.


Traditional Handicrafts of Making Xuan Paper, World Intangible Cultural Heritages in China

The traditional handicraft of making Xuan paper and painting on a Xuan paper scroll is showcased in the video clip at the Opening Ceremony of Beijing Olympic Games, 2008.

In Jing County of eastern China’s Anhui Province, Xuan paper-making has always been a pillar industry and a calling card of the region. It is said that the water quality and mild climate of the region are key to the quality of Xuan paper. Artisans are still keeping this handicraft alive by either teaching it as local schools or practicing it in numerous workshops. Visitors may find the Xuan Paper Culture Garden where the fascinating art of paper making is showcased.

General process of the Xuan paper-making handicraft are:-

  1) Dry the tree bark and stems in the sun, and select them by quality and grade;
  2) Pulverize the bark with wooden hammers to produce a pulp;
  3) Wash the pulp in water, breaking it down into fibers;
  4) Mix the beaten pulp with water to make a thick mixture;
  5) Use a sheet of bamboo to sluice through the mixture, leaving a coating of pulp on the sheet as water drains through;
  6) The coating of pulp, once dry, is peeled off the bamboo and further dried on a heated stone.
  7) The pulp hardens into paper, which is then cut into different sizes.


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