Discovering the beauty of paper in Beijing

Discovering the beauty of paper in Beijing
Xuan paper products are displayed at a specialty paper store in Beijing.

BEIJING - China is known as the country where paper was invented. In search of traditional paper, I visited the Liulichang area in central Beijing where many antique shops are located.

Beijing Jianchongnan Zhidian is a specialty store that sells Xuan paper, a product of Anhui Province known for its quality. There are about 70 kinds of paper in different colors suitable for various purposes, including calligraphy, letter-writing and ink brush painting. Since I don't know all that much about paper, many of them looked similar to handmade Japanese paper.

According to store manager Yuan Lihong, 39, the paper is made using raw materials such as straw which make the paper colorfast and long-lasting. Yuan showed me a piece of Xuan paper that was 70 centimetres wide and 140 centimetres long with a smooth surface. By closely examining the slightly yellowish paper, I noticed the material in the paper's texture.

Yuan said that the paper is suitable for calligraphy and ink brush painting because of the way in which the paper absorbs liquid. It costs 1,800 yuan (S$390) per 100 sheets. The paper is also a very popular gift. After looking at the paper for some time, I felt tempted to use an ink brush.

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