Traditional handicrafts of making Xuan paper
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Traditional handicrafts of making Xuan paper
The unique water quality and mild climate of Jing County in Anhui Province in eastern China are two of the key ingredients in the craft of making Xuan paper that thrives there. Handmade from the tough bark of the Tara Wing-Celtis or Blue Sandalwood tree and rice straw, Xuan paper is known for its strong, smooth surface, its ability to absorb water and moisten ink, and fold repeatedly without breaking. It has been widely used in calligraphy, painting and book printing. The traditional process passed down orally over generations and still followed today proceeds strictly by hand through more than a hundred steps such as steeping, washing, fermenting, bleaching, pulping, sunning and cutting – all of which lasts more than two years. The production of the ‘Paper of Ages’ or ‘King of Papers’ is a major part of the economy in Jing County, where the industry directly or indirectly employs one in nine locals and the craft is taught in local schools. True mastery of the entire complicated process is won only by a lifetime of dedicated work. Xuan paper has become synonymous with the region, where a score of artisans still keep the craft alive.
Decision 4.COM 13.25
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: The traditional handicrafts of making Xuan paper have been transmitted orally from generation to generation and provide the communities concerned with a sense of identity and continuity;
- R.2: Inscription on the Representative List would contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage, raise awareness among young people about its importance, and promote cultural diversity and human creativity;
- R.3: The nomination describes recent efforts undertaken by various parties, proposes safeguarding measures with a clear timeline and budget allocation, and demonstrates the commitment of national and local governments as well as the communities concerned;
- R.4: The practitioners and communities concerned participated actively in the elaboration of the nomination file at all stages and expressed their free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: The element is inscribed on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage administered by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture.
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