Rice Paper Production

Exploitation of the Works of Nature

By Song Yingxing (1587 - 1664)

Chapter Thirteen - Papermaking

3. Bark Paper

Crop paper mulberry bark between the end of spring and the beginning of summer. Fell old trees level to the ground and cover them with dirt. They will branch out the next spring, giving better bark fiber.

Soak together in a water pond 60 jin1 of paper mulberry and 40 jin of young bamboo. When they are well retted, coat them with lime size and cook them thoroughly. In a recent thrifty preparation 13 part of rice stalk is mixed with 17 part of paper mulberry and bamboo, which produces white paper too if cured properly. Papers made from strong bark fiber cannot be torn easily across, and their lengthwise tear resembles cotton, by which they are named cotton paper. The first grade of cotton paper is lattice screen paper, a tribute from Guangxin County to royal palace for window covering. This paper is about 4 feet wide and 7 feet long, and its colored varieties are made by blending dye with pulp. The second grade is Lian Si paper. Paper that has rice ingredient is called document paper. Papers that made from other bark fibers like cotton rose are collectively called small bark paper. Many places in Henan produce this kind of paper, meeting the needs north in the capital, but it is unknown what fiber they use. Paper made from white mulberry bark is called mulberry paper, a fairly thick paper indispensable to collect silkworm seeds in the east of Zhejiang. Umbrella and folding fan makers use small bark paper.

Making large paper requires a large vat, and its mould is so big that it would take two persons to manipulate it. For lattice screen paper, more hands will be necessary. Any paper that will be used for painting should be sized with alum to flatten its nap. Slightly rougher than the other side, the right side of bark paper faces screen mould, or on which pulp settles. There is a way of making paper without mould in Japan. A large slate is laid on a heatable brick bed. When the slate is heated by the fire below, a thin coat of pulp is brushed over. In an instant a sheet of paper is made and then took off the slate. It is uncertain whether anyone in Korea and China make paper this way. Tax-paid-in-kind paper of Yongjia County is made from white mulberry. Letter paper of Xue Tao2 is made from cotton rose dyed with lotus dust. This paper, noted for its color, not fiber, was probably started by Xue Tao, and then named thus.

  1. 1 jin equals to 1.1 pound.
  2. Xue Tao, poetess and geisha of Tang period.

Exploitation of the Works of Nature is a 18 chapter technology encyclopedia published in 1637. Its author, Song Yingxing, was a Ming scholar lived into Qing dynasty. Because his uncooperative attitude toward the new order, this book was banned in next three hundred years. There are three parts in this chapter: fiber, bamboo paper and bark paper. His detailed technical descriptions are the only authentic record of ancient rice paper production.

Rice paper production

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