Oriental Papermaking Fibres


Common Name Flax Japanese Name Ama
Scientific Name

Linaceae Linum usitatissimum L.

Fibre Length Average 33mm (9-70mm) Fibre Width Average 20 μm (5-40μm)
Fibre Ends Pointed Cross-Marking Strong
Associated Cells None in this sample
Herzberg Colour Peach/Red Graff 'C' Colour Peach/Red


Flax is an annual plant grown for its use in textiles and for linseed oil. The bast fibres are used for textiles and in paper production are separated from the stem by retting. When used in textiles the bast fibre is known as Linen. Today the main sources of flax are Russia, eastern Europe, France, Belgium and Holland. For papermaking hemp is obtained from either textiles, known as rag, from remnant hemp fibres after the removal of the bast for textiles, this is known as ‘textile flax tow’ or from processing the entire plant, usually from seed flax that is otherwise used for Linseed oil production. The flax from textiles is of the highest quality as the other two forms often contain impurities from the bark and xylem.

Flax fibres are long, narrow and often end pointed ends. Dislocations, cross-marking and longitudinal striations are visible, especially with staining. The cross-markings often bunch together, sometimes forming ‘V’ shaped marks. Hemp and flax fibres are very similar, often differentiated by the associated cells. Short pitted fibres are present, often narrower than hemp or kenaf. Pitted vessel elements are also present, they are again narrow than those present in kenaf or hemp. Epidermal cells are present in pulp, and have smoother walls than the saw-toothed type often present in grasses such as rice or wheat.

Image 1 Image 2
flax1 flax2


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Contact email address: travtora@gmail.com
Centre homepage: www.culturalconservation.unimelb.edu.au
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