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Hands On a Han Invention

On a stroll one evening, I came across this papermaking workshop just off Lijiang’s main street.

The next morning Huang said that he had been planning to take us there since he had learned how much we like hands-on crafts. The workshop’s interior courtyard had all the papermaking tools in place: piles of bark in the corner, a huge pot to boil it, a wooden trough of paper slurry and various wooden scoops and screens to make the paper, sheet by sheet. A poster even gave step-by-step instructions.


Sami was excited. Earlier this year in our home-school, she had written a research paper on the invention of paper as her Han Dynasty project. Now she could “invent” a sheet herself!

With just a little guidance from one of the workers, Sami poured in the slurry, smoothed it onto the screen, squeezed out the water and carefully peeled off a sheet of textured bark paper.

She followed the exact same process as the old man we met in Xinjiang who first introduced the craft to us. In Xinjiang, he has few customers and his craft will likely die out with him. Here in Lijiang, we were happy to find a thriving business with many beautiful paper products – lanterns, postcards, stationery, maps and books – for sale.

Next: Dongba Dinner

Lijiang chapters: Intro Dance Yaks Script Market Paper Dinner
Yunnan chapter shortcuts: Intro Dali Lijiang Tiger Leaping Gorge Zhongdian

Homepage Everyday Adventures Work Visit! Contact