Tradtitonal Chinese Art Treasure - Xuan Paper

Xuan paper is a kind of paper originating in ancient China used for writing and painting. Xuan paper is renowned for being soft and fine textured, suitable for conveying the artistic expression of both Chinese calligraphy and painting.

Xuan paper is produced in Jing County of East China's. Anhui Province. The county was under the jurisdiction of Xuanzhou Prefecture in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Jing County paper was first shipped to Xuanzhou. and then transshipped to other ports. hence the name of Xuan paper.

Due to different producing methods, Xuan paper can be classified into Shengxuan, Shuxuan, and Banshuxuan. Shengxuan (literally "Raw Xuan"), which is not specially processed, excels in its ability to absorb water, causing the ink on it to blur. Shuxuan (literally "Ripe Xuan"), however, is smeared on by Potassium alum during its production, which results in its texture being harder and its ability to absorb water weaker. This feature makes Shuxuan more suitable for Xieyi rather than Gongbi, and more easily torn at the same time. Banshuxuan (literally "Half-ripe Xuan") has intermediate absorbability, between Shengxuan and Shuxuan.

The paper is soft and fine in texture. suitable for both Chinese calligraphy and painting. Xuan paper has the reputation of being able to last for a thousand years as it can be kept for a long time.

There are numerous kinds of Xuan paper. such as dan. jia. luowen. coral. tiger-skin. and jade-plate. The quality depends on whether the paper is unprocessed. processed. or half-processed.

Unprocessed paper absorbs water easily. Ink filters through this paper easily, too. People must put their brush on this paper to make sure the thickness or thinness of their liquid ink is suitable.


Processed paper goes through a process whereby gelatin made from bones and alum (a kind of sulfate) is added. This kind of paper does not absorb water easily and is stiff or hard to the touch.

Half-processed paper has a neutral character. in that it absorbs water. but it does not filter through easily.

* Original address of this China gift post: China Gift and Fine Arts & Crafts in China

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