How Was Paper Invented In Ancient China? (Papermaking)

Since the Egyptians and Chinese invented paper, it has significantly transformed our lives. Paper is versatile since people have been using it differently. For instance, you can use paper to write, print, or even package different items.

Whether you work in an office, bank, or school, you probably use paper from time to time. So, how is paper made, and who invented it? These are some of the major questions we will give answers to in our article today. Enjoy!

History of paper

Egypt was the first country to invent paper in the 4th Century BC. They came up with a plant-based sheet to draw and write. This paper-like sheet was made from papyrus.

During the Han period, the Chinese invented a plant puree paper better than the paper-like sheet from Egypt. This plant puree conglomerate was somehow similar to what modern paper looks like. The Han dynasty took place in 100 CE.

Before the Chinese began using paper, writers used silk and bamboo pieces. Silk was initially used since it was convenient and light, while bamboo was readily available and convenient. They discovered that paper was better than both options since it was more practical and cheaper.

In the 8th Century BCE, the Chinese used hemp paper for padding, wrapping, and writing. The person that invented paper in China was called Cai Lun. He was also the brains behind the modern papermaking process. He used different materials like hemp waste rags, bast fibers, and mulberry to make paper.

By the third century, the use of paper in China became widespread. In the 6th century, they introduced toilet paper. The Chinese used paper to preserve the tea flavor during the Tang dynasty. The Chinese used paper between 618-907 CE to pay taxes and tribute. The Tang also established different color codes on paper use.

They reserved white for legal documents and yellow for government use. The Song Dynasty became the first government to introduce money printed on paper. When trade increased, they replaced the barter system by using paper money to pay for commodities.

By the 8th century, the use of paper had spread to the Muslim world. Rather than using papyrus, people used stone and wood inscriptions in the 8th century. In the 1100s, the invention of paper spread to more regions, including Europe. By 1300 CE, the Europeans developed papermaking molds using metallic wire.

By the 15th century, the use of paper had gained more popularity in Europe. During this period, they invented movable type printing. The 19th century marked the start of modern papermaking in Europe.

Why was paper invented in ancient china?

Before paper was invented, most calligraphers recorded text on papyrus or clay tablets. The invention of the early form of paper in China was accidental. Hemp clothes were left for too long after cleaning.

The owners took the water residue to come up with useful material. After this, Ancient China started making paper to help spread literature. They invented paper to use in writing and making books.

During the Han Dynasty, the Chinese invented paper to produce military and topographical maps. The Chinese started using paper as an alternative to bamboo and silk since it was lighter and more affordable. They also invented paper to use for packaging delicate or fragile items like medicine.

Since the Chinese produced tea during ancient times, they invented paper to package parcels of tea. The Chinese also used paper to make hats, sheets, paper screens, and money.

How was paper made in ancient china?

In Ancient China, paper was first made using the bark of a tree called mulberry. The Chinese that made paper during those times broke the bark fibers of this tree and pounded them into a sheet. The papermaking process changed when the Chinese found out that they could make quality paper by including old fishnets and rags to the pulp.

Since there was no automated machinery during this period, the Chinese made paper by hand. They used skilled crafts to make distinct paper. The Chinese experimented on paper making using different fibers during the Han period. They used fibers from tree barks, hemp, stems of grass, and vegetable matter to find the most affordable materials that could produce better quality paper.

In the 8th century, the Chinese started using rattan instead of hemp paper. Though rattan was used for a while, the Chinese replaced it with bamboo fiber which became a popular raw material for paper making. The Chinese made paper in different sizes and even experimented with various colors. They use special paper with unique patterns and colors for art and calligraphy.

Why paper is important

Paper has not lost its relevance over the years. People still find paper to be important since it is used in reading and writing. Though technology has led to the introduction of items like computers, we still rely on paper to print written content. Despite the introduction of online sources, paper is still used to make newspapers and help relay information to the public.

Apart from education and passing down information, paper is also important since it is used to make tissues that we use in our households. Most medical products like dressings and plasters are also made from paper.

Paper is also important since it revolutionized commerce and trade. Since people adopted paper money, international and local trade volume increased and flourished more than barter trade.

Modern industries also depend on the paper to package most items. Though devices such as mobile phones have made communication easy, paper is still important since it is used to make envelopes. Letter writing has not completely faded in some regions.


The Chinese have been using paper for more than two millennia. They were among the first people to invent paper. Since the invention of paper, its use has spread worldwide. Different techniques are now used to make quality paper in various regions. Paper is preferred over other materials since it is flexible, lightweight, and durable. Over the years, paper has evolved in terms of how it is manufactured, used, and even in its appearance.


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