As we become a world of instant gratification, traditional art forms that have survived for thousands of years are now slowly disappearing. Korean Paper, of Hanji, is paper that is created using traditional methods by the Hanji artists. Simply translated, Hanji literally means “the paper of Korea”.
Paper-making in Korea is believed to have started somewhere between the 3rd century and the end of the 6th century and was known as the finest quality paper available in East Asia. But to call Hanji simply paper is not correct, it is highly durable and has been used in clothing, lanterns, kites and even as armour after varnishing. Hanji paper today is still made by employing the same methods as the last thousand years, by using the inner bark of the Paper Mulberry tree and Hibiscus Meniot roots which helps to hold the paper together. There are several complex steps involved in making Hanji, and traditional Koreans would dedicate their entire lives to the art of Hanji and it is this amount of dedication and skill that is the reason that Hanji holds such a great cultural value in Korea.
Today, technology has improved and quickened the process, but it still requires incredible skill and technique. The process of making the paper is complex, and is steeped in religious rituals, the ancient Koreans believed that it was important to choose a good day, with a beautiful sky in order to make Hanji, and to please the spirits in order to wish for a favourable and smooth process.
The versatility and vitality of Korean paper are the main reasons that it continues to survive today. The Koreans believed in an old saying that “paper lasts a thousand years and textiles last five hundred” And we know this to be true. Books and drawings created on Hanji, have been found, and dated to over 1000 years old. The most famous example is the Muggujungwang, which is the oldest printed material dating to 751. This is what makes the Hanji special, it’s incredible durability.
Due to the complexity of its creation, Korean paper cannot compete with mass produced modern paper. However, it is still considered incredibly valuable to Korean culture and small amounts are created and used mainly for artistic purposes such as calligraphy and dyeing.
Why not purchase your tea gift wrapped in beautiful Hanji, and experience it for yourself. The paper is simply beautiful in itself, and will last a lifetime.