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The Story of Paper Episode One

China is famous for four ancient inventions; perhaps the most significant of them is paper. The man who invented paper, Cai Lun, is counted among the most influential people of all time. But what did the Chinese write on, before Cai Lun’s great invention? And where did he get his inspiration?

The Story of Paper Episode Two

The man who invented paper, Cai Lun, is still widely revered. Not so in his lifetime, however. It would take hundreds of years before his great invention was widely embraced. What do modern experts think caused this reluctance to use paper?

The Story of Paper Episode Three

A piece of calligraphy written in the fourth century is generally considered to be the finest ever produced. But was the paper it was written on, part of the reason for its fame? The original of this masterpiece has been lost; but other works of calligraphy have managed to survive for over a thousand years.

The Story of Paper Episode Four

From the traditional line drawings of the Han Dynasty, through the post-Song splash-ink style of freehand brushwork, and up until the present day, Chinese painting and calligraphy has been influenced by the paper it was done on. In art and paper circles, the name Xuan is associated with the finest quality.

The story of paper Episode 5

Paper, having been invented in China, spread to Japan. There, and in other parts of Asia, it was further refined. And yet, in Europe the belief persisted that paper had originated in Europe itself, or the Arab world.

The story of paper Episode Six

Even as late as the 18th century, Europe’s paper-makers realized that they still had a lot to learn from China, the country where paper-making originated. In America, the great statesman Benjamin Franklin even wrote a thesis on Chinese paper-making.

The Story of Paper Episode Seven

At the end of the 18th century, Frenchman Louis-Nicolas Robert initiated a revolution which became a turning point in the history of paper-making. But how would his invention affect China and Japan, where the traditions of paper-making went back well over a thousand years?

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