The Institute‘s Paper Collection

Xuan paper               20.7.2017



The approximately 200 types of paper in the collection have differing dimensions, the majority being in the Xuan paper category (宣紙).

Xuan paper is the quintessential variety of Chinese paper. It comes originally from Anhui Province, and there from the prefecture of Xuan. It is also referred to as the “King of all Papers”. Xuan paper is perceived as uniquely important by scholars in East Asia. It is used principally for calligraphy and ink painting. Its absorbency demands huge empathy and craft skills on the part of the artist concerned, since the paper is able to show all the details of the brushwork, thus creating the depth of Chinese ink painting.

The production technique for Xuan paper has been officially recognised in China as part of the nation’s intangible cultural heritage. In addition, the number of expert craft papermakers has itself declined substantially. The papermaking operation consists of 72 separate steps, and has become progressively more mechanised and automated over time, but without achieving the superlative quality of previous eras.

The raw material for its production has become increasingly rarer.

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