Oriental Papermaking Fibres


Common Name Hemp Japanese Name Asa
Scientific Name Moraceae Cannabis Sativa
Fibre Length Average 25mm (5-55mm) Fibre Width Average 25µm (10-50µm)
Fibre Ends Variable, usually broken Cross-Marking Strong
Associated Cells Pitted vessel elements and Paranchyma cells
Herzberg Colour Blue Graff 'C' Colour Blue


The fibres are long, thick walled, and have cross-marking, numerous dislocations and longitudinal striations. Fibres end in blunt ends, although irregular fibre ends are present, which is usually due to processing. Fibres from textiles usually do not contain associated cells, while those from raw materials may contain pitted vessel elements, parenchyma, and short pitted fibres. Differentiating Hemp from flax can be difficult. Hemp fibres are generally wider, and the associated cells vary[14].

This fibre was used in China in the Han Dynasty, and was introduced to Japan via Korea in the sixth century. Due to the difficulty in manufacture, hemp paper fell out of favour in Japan in the Heian Period, (794-1185), and was not revived in usage until the late Taisho period (1912-1926) to the early Showa period (1926-1989), by Iwano Heizaburo I of Echizen, to produce a paper that is popular with Nihonga (Japanese style painting) artists . In China and Japan paper called ‘Hemp Paper’ can be made out of Hemp, Flax, Ramie or Jute. Hemp papers are known in Japanese as Mashi.

Image 1 Image 2
hemp1 hemp2


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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