The act of putting down your thoughts, on a piece of paper, is considered very easy in the present times. However, this very act was extremely difficult a few centuries ago, when paper had just been invented. At that time, paper was used for documenting important records only. With time, people started experimenting with a number of materials, to make a smooth and flat surface, on which things could be written easily, leading to the invention of the present-day paper. While a number of people suggest that paper was invented in China, others believe that the writing material was derived from a plant called "papyrus", grown in Egypt, much before its invention in the China. If you want to know exactly who invented paper and when, go through the following lines.
History of Paper
The word "paper" originated from "papyrus", a plant that grew along the lower parts of Nile River in Egypt, about 5000 years ago. Egyptians harvested the plant, peeled it and sliced it into very thin strips. The strips were, then, piled together. This formed a smooth and flat layer of sheets, of uniform dimensions, on which one could write with ink. The material used for writing continued to be the same for the next 3000 years.
The invention of paper in China dates back to 104 CE. During the period, Ts'ai Lun, a courtier in the Easter Han Dynasty, used the inner bark of a mulberry tree and bamboo fibers for making a writing base. After blending the fibers with water, he pounded the mixture with a wooden tool. He, then, transferred this mixture onto a flat piece of thick cloth. The leftover fibers on the cloth, after draining the water, were used to make the writing material. Lun discovered that the material, once dry, was very lightweight. It was easy to make as well.
Remnants of hemp, linen rags, fishnets and tree bark were also used to make paper during the period. Thereafter, a variety of paper were developed and used for different purposes. The variety included hide paper, "xuan" paper, hemp paper and bamboo paper, which were used during the reign of Tang Dynasty (618-907) and Song Dynasty (960-1279). Used in Chinese paintings and calligraphy, xuan paper was considered to be the most durable as well as the smoothest among the rest of the varieties and scored on its whiteness as well.
In Rest Of The World
At the advent of 3rd century CE, Chinese paper was introduced in Korea and Vietnam. Later on, the Japanese were also introduced to it. People in India, started using Chinese paper in the late 7th century CE. In the Islamic world, the technique of papermaking was obtained from two Chinese prisoners, captured by the Arab Abbasid conquerors, in 751 CE, after the battle of Talas, in Samarkand.
By the rise of 10th century, the Arabians had replaced wood and bamboo, used in making traditional Chinese paper, with linen fibers, to make finer sheets of paper. The first paper mill in Europe was built in 1150. In the 15th century, traders from Afghanistan and the Macassar region of Indonesia took the Chinese paper making craft to northern coasts of what is presently Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.