c.48 - 121
Chinese Inventor

T'sai-lun was an official attached to the Imperial court during the eastern Han dynasty. Reputed inventor of paper.

Legend has it, that Tsai-lung, who recognized the inadequacy of the existing writing material (silk, bamboo), created the first paper in the world by drying pulp from old rags, bark, mulberry fibers, and hemp. The pulp was floated in water, sieved out onto fabric sheets, and then allowed to dry. When it dried, it congealed into a firm, tough sheet that was very light, and as long as it did not get wet, proved remarkably durable.

The art of papermaking traveled slowly; it reached Samarkand in Central Asia around 750, and fifty years later the first paper was made in Baghdad during the time of Harun al-Rashid. It reached Europe in the 14th century, more than thousand years after its invention in China.

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