AD 610

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AD 610

Papermaking spreads across Asia, Middle East and Europe

Chinese papermaking techniques reached Korea at an early date and were introduced to Japan in the year 610. In these two countries paper is still made by hand on a large scale in the old tradition, i.e. from the fresh bast (inner bark) fibres of the mulberry tree (known as kozo in Japanese). Following the cooking process, the long, uncut fibres are simply prepared by beating, which gives the paper its characteristic look and excellent quality. The latter is due, among other things, to multiple, rapid immersions of the mould which results in a multi-layer fibre mat. Very soon, knowledge of papermaking spread to Central Asia and Tibet and then on to India. As the Arab world expanded eastwards it too became acquainted with the production of paper and paper mills were set up in Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and later in Morocco, Spain and Sicily. Owing to the lack of fresh fibres, the predominant raw material used was rags. Although the pulping process, such as breaker mills, produced a rather inferior ground pulp, the Arab papermakers used screens made of reeds when filtering the pulp which produced thin sheets which were then ‘coated' with starch paste. This gave Arabian paper its good writing properties and fine appearance.