The invention of paper took place in central China during the Han dynasty (206BC – 220AD). Cai Lun is widely credited as the first person to produce paper as we know it today. He was a court official who began to produce paper by using tree bark, hemp remnants, rags and fishing nets. Paper soon began to be used throughout the rest of China, but it was only several centuries later that it started to be discovered by the rest of the world. For the widest range of quality paper products that are available in today’s market visit

Cai Lun
Cai Lun

How Did The Chinese Write Before Paper?

The two main materials that were used for writing before the invention of paper were tablets made from bamboo, or sheets of silk. Both of these materials had certain impracticalities that made writing on them difficult, and paved the way for the invention of paper. Bamboo tablets were heavy, which made them difficult to transport. Silk was easier to carry around, but was expensive. Paper overcame both of these issues as it was as easy as silk to transport, but could be produced cheaply which made it more accessible. It was an invention that soon caught on and is was soon being used all over China.

What Was Paper Used For?

Paper had a number of uses other than writing. Many of the things that paper was used for in these ancient times, are still uses that it has today. It was commonly used to protect delicate objects. Emperor Wu of Han was known to have used it to protect his delicate bronze mirrors. It was also used as toilet paper, which seemed very unusual to travelers to the country, who followed the common practice of washing with water after using the toilet. During the 7th Century, paper was used in China to help preserve the flavor of tea by sewing it into square bags, much like the teabags that we know today. Money began to be printed onto paper in China in the 10th Century. If money was given to the government as a gift, a practice that was not uncommon, then it would have been given in a special envelope that was also made from paper.

Paper Manufacture in Longjing

Longjing is a village in the Zhenfeng district of southwest China where handmade paper is still produced on a daily basis. It is estimated that over 500 families take part in this paper manufacturing every day. These families follow the traditions of paper making that have been down through the generations. As long as there is a demand for the paper that is produced, the village will continue to be a center for handmade paper. Paper products that have been produced in this village are sold all over the world, with some of these products even being purchased by the White House. The fact that paper is still produced in this way in Longjing demonstrates the pride that the Chinese have in their history of paper making.