Paper & Beyond, 2018
History of paper
Of all the writing materials mankind has employed down through the ages, paper has become the most widely used around the world. Paper has a long history stretching back to ancient Egypt in the third millennium BC.
Although our paper may not be recognisable to the Pharaohs, paper has retained its essential characteristics down through the ages and today's diverse offerings remain as natural, essential and precious as ever.
The word ‘paper' is derived from papyrus, a plant that was once abundant in Egypt and which was used to produce a thick, paper-like material by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Papyrus, however, is only one of the predecessors of paper that are collectively known by the generic term ‘tapa' and which were mostly made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry, fig and daphne trees.
Paper as we know it traces its roots back to China at the beginning of the first millennium AD. Traditional Chinese records give the credit for its development to one T'sai Lun (about 105AD). He was subsequently deified as the god of papermakers!
The craft of papermaking spread throughout the world and remained a relatively small-scale, artisan activity until paper production became industrialised during the 19th century. Originally intended purely for writing and printing purposes, a dazzling array of paper products are available to today's consumer.