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Tracing the characters of a civilization's story

Updated: 2024-05-28 07:42 ( CHINA DAILY )
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The making of Xuan paper is done manually.XU JIE/GUO HAIPENG/HU DUNHUANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Xuan paper, or rice paper, is revered as "the king of paper", possessing a sheen akin to jade, a smoothness reminiscent of spring ice, and a density like a cocoon.

Originating in the Tang Dynasty and produced in Jingxian, which was under the jurisdiction of Xuanzhou during the Tang, the paper was named "Xuan paper" after its birthplace.

With a history of more than 1,500 years, Xuan paper is an exceptional example of China's traditional handmade paper and one of the Four Treasures of the Study.

Even today in Jingxian county, Anhui province, artisans still adhere to the 108 manual processes that have been passed down since the prosperous periods of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties for the production of Xuan paper.

As a staple in Chinese calligraphy and painting, Xuan paper is celebrated for its supple and resilient texture, exquisite grain, and distinct layers that enhance artistic expression, strong strokes and effortless long-term preservation.

Without Xuan paper, it would have been difficult for a vast amount of Chinese documents, classical texts, Buddhist and Taoist scripures, and precious artworks to survive through the centuries.

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