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Jia Jiang Bamboo Paper Factory

A trip to see a bamboo paper factory in nearby Jiajiang

We left at around 9 a.m. Saturday morning to go to Jia Jiang to see the Thousand Buddhas Carvings and then to a bamboo paper factory. This will be the story about the bamboo paper factory.

Bamboo paper is only made in Jia Jiang according to all the sources I have found on the internet. It is not very commercially feasible since it is so labor intensive. The plan was to go to the Thousand Buddhas place and visit the paper making museum. There we would ask were we could visit a bamboo paper factory. Unfortunately, the museum was closed and my fellow teacher, Tom was treated very rudely for trying to go see it even when the door was open.

Fortunately, prior to visiting the museum we had lunch with a Chinese family from Jia Jiang who gave us the address and telephone number of a friend who happened to have such a bamboo paper factory. We took the bus back to town and caught a taxi with the help of a sophomore student at a Chengdu university. Nice people these Chinese. If you doubt this, ask Tom. He was still fuming about how he had been treated by the guard at the museum when we decided to go take some more pictures of carvings at the river level. Among the carvings was a group of Chinese playing Mahjong. They made us feel very wanted and offered us gum and other refreshments, making it obvious that they were glad to see us. Amazing how everywhere there are jerks and how the jerks are easily canceled out by the "real" people.

Wonderful people playing mahjong canceling out the rude guard

So we end up in a small town about half an hour out of Jia Jiang. A store front operation selling bamboo paper. Great. Sunee decides what paper she wants and as she does this, we are told the story of bamboo paper. Factory? Sure, they say, follow us to the back where the paper is being made now. Excitement!! Ooops, the process is a closely guarded secret so no cameras. Disappointed, yes, but we understood.

Inspecting the paper in the sales office

Telling the story of bamboo paper

Tom feels the difference

Let's buy five of these bundles in different sizes

Yes, we saw the process, all by hand. A very time consuming process where the paper is actually being dipped onto a screen in a soupy mix that felt like baby oil or latex. The screen is then brought out and the paper peel off to be dried on a heated brick platform and then separated. I think the mixing formula is the real secret - to get the oil/latex mixture just right to stick to the screen in just the right thickness.

After we bought five stacks, cords, bundles or whatever of the paper, the owner told us about colored bamboo paper at his other factory and asked if we were interested. Never say no at such an opportunity! We visited this other factory which was about fifteen minutes away. As it turned out, they did not have any colored paper ready to sell. Instead we were given a bundle of cheaper paper for Sunee to use. Yep, given as a gift. Things simply cannot get any better than this, especially for someone who is studying Chinese watercolor as Sunee is.

On the way to the other factory

Just a little further

Bamboo waiting to be processed

The first step in processing the bamboo

The bamboo paper factory

Watermarking devices for the colored bamboo paper - ancient designs

By the way, the properties of the bamboo paper are as good as advertised. It has about 75% less bleeding as the normal rice paper and is solid enough not to let the colors seep all the way through. Great bargain on the paper and a great education on how a process continues that is more than a thousand years old. Also, most of the ancient Chinese watercolor masterpieces were done on just such paper so it lasts for thousands of years as well. Now for Sunee to become a master painter!

Posted by inchinahil 19:44 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites

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