Oriental Papermaking Fibres


Common Name Gampi Japanese Name Ganpi
Scientific Name Thymelaeaceae Wikstremia Canescens
Fibre Length Average 3mm (2-4mm) Fibre Width Average 12µm (4-20µm)
Fibre Ends Variable Cross-Marking Faint
Associated Cells Rectangular
Herzberg Colour Yellow/Bluish Green Graff 'C' Colour Yellow/Blue


Gampi is a relatively short fibre with faint surface markings. It is identifiable by the broad central portions that occur in many fibres (See Image 1). There are also immature, point ended, fibres that are often present in the pulp that stain yellow, and occasionally red. Fibre ends are found in many shapes, including, blunt, rounded, forked and others. There are many associated cells, which stain blue, that are a variety of shapes, including long rectangular and are often broken (See Image 1 and 2). The fibres are known to contain a natural muscilage that helps disperse the fibres, making the formation of thick sheets difficult.

Growing as a small shrub, Gampi has been used for centuries in Japan as a source of high quality, fine paper. Gampi paper is famously known for its use as Torinoko paper. Torinoko translates to ‘bird’s child’ because of its semi-transparent, glossy, egg-like surface. The paper doesn’t bleed easily and is known to shrink and wrinkle with exposure to water or heavy ink. These characteristic make it more appropriate for fine lines, such as with Kana Calligraphy, (Japanese syllabary) or in the transcription of Buddhist scriptures, or letters. Traditionally Buddhist scriptures were often done on Torinoko paper that had been treated with a dye from the inner bark of the Kihada tree which was thought to make it more resistant to insect attack. Gampi papers are made in combination with other fibres to improve the working properties when large amounts of ink are used.

Gampi paper is also used for Japanese style painting, luxurious sliding door or window covers.


Image 1 Image 2
gampi1 gampi2


For information about this page, contact: Travis Taylor
Contact email address: travtora@gmail.com
Centre homepage: www.culturalconservation.unimelb.edu.au
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