It is a known historical fact that paper as we know it today first started in ancient China way back in 105 AD. A Chinese Eunuch by the name of Ts’ai Luned is credited with its discovery. Many Chinese men who served in the courts were made Eunuchs at the time; so they would not be tempted by the Wives, Concubines or Female Royalty in the Chinese Courts. Ts’ai Luned discovered that you could take macerated vegetable fibers, and form them into thin feted porous molds to make paper. Before the third century AD in China, the first paper was made from tree bark cloth of disintegrating trees and other vegetation such as mulberry hemp and Chinese grass.
The technology of making paper began in China and spread to Japan and Korea by 610 AD. By the time it reached Japan and then Korea paper was commonly made from mulberry bark and Gampi. Later the vegetation used to make paper also included bamboo or rice straw.
It was Marco Polo who on his world travels when going to China wrote on the findings of the paper. He wrote quite clearly that the Chinese Emperor “jealously guarded” their secrets in regards to making paper. He did note however that fine paper was indeed made by the Chinese, who used various vegetable fibers in the process. Historians then piece together the trail of the Caravans along the Gobi Desert, who took the paper with them on their expeditions.
These expeditions took paper made of fiber bark, fibers of hemp and fibers of rags which made its way from the Gobi to the Desert of Takla Makan and the Tarim Valley and finally arrived in Samarkand. At that time paper was still a closely guarded secret and was not made in that area of the world until 751 AD. That was the time in which the Chinese lost to the Turks in a battle of Turkistan on the banks of the Taraz river. There were among those Chinese who were taken as prisoners craftsmen skilled at paper making. It was at that time that the paper was also made in Samarkand.
It is speculated by historians it was at that time that the first paper mill was established in Baghdad. From there, paper making spread from Damascus, Egypt, and Morocco. By the end of the 10th-century, paper replaced papyrus and parchment in the Arab world.
Paper usage was scare in Europe during the 1st century. It was not until the Muslim conquest of Spain that brought paper to Europe. Both Italy and Spain claim to be the first of “Christian Europe” to have paper. In actuality paper slowly made its way through Christian Europe after 1244 AD after the Moors were kicked out of Spain.
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