A Brief History of Chinese Paper


Precursors: Writing in China before Paper

While Paper has been a fundamental part of the Chinese visual and literary arts since at least the Han Dynasty, its widespread production was predated by the development of the Chinese writing system. Chinese writing was first developed for ritual purposes, being engraved on bones and tortoise shells. From there, characters inscribed on bronze vessels and other precious objects exposed and explained the ownership and meaning of ritual goods as political and religious tools. By the end of the Warring States Period, writing in pursuit of a textual culture of poetry, history and philosophy was most often carried out on slips of bamboo or wood. Writing and painting on Silk was also common in the elite culture of the Warring States, especially in the production of state banners or funerary goods.

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