Character Story

Character Story | What kind of secret is hidden behind a piece of paper? | DXDF, Grand Orient Wax Figure

March 23, 2023
Character Story | What kind of secret is hidden behind a piece of paper? | DXDF, Grand Orient Wax Figure

When did paper come from?


Paper evolved from a "tree", so do you know the story behind the paper ? According to documents unearthed by archeology, paper was invented in the Western Han Dynasty. In 1933, a piece of hemp paper was unearthed at the former site of the beacon pavilion of the Han Dynasty in Lop Nur, Xinjiang, and the wooden slips unearthed at the same time had the year name of the first year of Emperor Xuandi Huanglong (49 BC) . In 1957, ancient paper from the second century BC was unearthed in Baqiao, the eastern suburb of Xi'an. The paper was yellowish and torn into pieces.


In history, the one that has a close relationship with paper must be Cai Lun, the eunuch in the Eastern Han Dynasty. Cai Lun's improved papermaking technology was listed as the "Four Great Inventions" of ancient China. It has made outstanding contributions to the spread of human culture and the progress of world civilization, and has been respected by people for thousands of years. It is regarded as the originator of papermaking and the "God of Paper" by paper workers. In Mike Hart's "100 Celebrities Who Affected the Process of Human History", Cai Lun ranked seventh. Cai Lun was on the list of the "Best Inventors of All Time" published by the American "Time" magazine. The opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games featured Cai Lun's improved papermaking techniques.


Cai Lun, who was in charge of improving papermaking, supervised the manufacture of various utensils used in the palace. He picked out bark, broken linen, old fishing nets, etc., and asked the craftsmen to chop them up and put them in a large pool for soaking. After a period of time, the debris in it rotted away, and the fibers, which were not perishable, remained. He asked the craftsmen to pick up the soaked raw materials, put them into the stone mortar, and keep stirring until they became a slurry, and then picked up the sticky things with bamboo sticks, and peeled them off after drying. turned into paper. Cai Lun led the craftsmen to experiment repeatedly, and trial-produced paper that is not only light, thin and flexible, but also easy to obtain, a wide range of sources, and low price.


In the first year of Yuanxing (AD 105), Cai Lun presented paper to Emperor Hanhe. Cai Lun wrote the method of papermaking as a memorial and presented it to the emperor together with the paper. It is regarded as a miracle everywhere. Nine years later, Cai Lun was named "Marquis of Longting", with 300 households in Shiyi. Because Cai Lun invented the new paper-making method that was gradually promoted all over the country, people called this paper "Caihou paper".


Cai Lun Papermaking


The vast majority of modern people’s understanding of Cai Lun comes from papermaking, one of the four great inventions of ancient China mentioned in middle school history classes. It is precisely because of his improvement of papermaking that paper is not only cheap but also of high quality. It is the source of modern paper.


Cai Lun was born in 62, and entered the palace after being castrated in the last year of Yongping (75) of Emperor Ming of the Han Dynasty . He was only 13 years old. There are also different opinions about the reasons why he entered the palace after being castrated. In the early years of Emperor Zhang of the Han Dynasty , he served as Xiaohuangmen . After Emperor Hanhe ascended the throne, he was promoted to the position of Zhongchang Shi , and participated in the planning of state secrets and major events. "Book of the Later Han Dynasty Eunuch Biography" stated that Cai Lun had real talents and learning, was loyal to officials, was cautious and honest in doing things, and repeatedly violated the emperor's majesty to admonish the gains and losses of the court's administration.


Later, Cai Lun served as Shang Fang Ling , supervising the production of court items. It is believed that it was at this time that Cai Lun came into contact with the best handcrafts of the Eastern Han Dynasty and improved the papermaking technology of the time. According to the " Book of the Later Han Dynasty : Biography of Eunuchs", since ancient times, bamboo slips have been used as writing carriers for books and documents. Therefore, Cai Lun wanted to carry out technological innovation, and switched to using cheap materials such as bark, rags, hemp heads, and fishing nets to make paper, which greatly reduced the cost of papermaking and prepared conditions for the popularization of paper. In the first year of Emperor Yuanxing of the Han Dynasty, Cai Lun reported the achievements of improving papermaking technology to the emperor. The emperor appreciated Cai Lun's talent very much and promoted the improved papermaking technology to various places. Tinghou, so later people called the paper "Caihou paper".


At the same time, Cai Lun also designed crossbows and swords. At that time, they were called the crossbow of Cai Taipu and the sword of Longting, which were famous all over the world.


Influence passed on to future generations


Cai Lun's story seems to be more exciting than TV dramas. Despite constant criticism, his contribution still has far-reaching influence in our country and the world. Professor T. F. Carter of the United States once believed in the book "The Invention of Chinese Printing and its Spread to the West": "The great figure who occupies the chief position in Gutenberg's lineage is the eunuch Cai Lun, the inventor of Caihou paper. Cai Lun and Gutenberg Thunberg is a father-son relationship in spirit, and they have an outstanding position in promoting world culture and education."


Domestic theme exhibitions in the name of Cai Lun, Memorial Garden, Caihou Temple, Cai Lun Street, Cai Lun Inventor Square, and even "China Paper Cai Lun Lifetime Achievement Award", "China Paper Cai Lun Science and Technology Award", "China Paper Cai Lun Science and Technology Award", "China Paper Cai Lun Youth Science and Technology Award" and other social awards.


There is also the Wax Museum of World Scientific Figures in Guangzhou Zhengjia Plaza created by Elephant Oriental Wax Art, which brings together 52 groups of wax figures of 57 great scientists from the East and the West, including Cai Lun.


The national intangible cultural heritage-themed film "Cai Lun" has recently landed on the "Maoyan" entertainment new film trailer, which will be broadcast in major theaters across the country and on CCTV6 movie channel. The movie "Cai Lun" is the first domestic theater movie based on Cai Lun's ancient costume. It tells the arduous journey of Cai Lun's invention of papermaking, and shows his innovative spirit, research spirit and craftsman spirit.

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