Part of the Traveling the Silk Road exhibition.

Samarkand was famous throughout the Islamic world for its especially fine paper.

Papermaking Step-by-Step

Chinese line drawing from the 1600s showing a person making paper.

Paper is made from plant material or cloth that is mashed to a pulp and then formed into a sheet. These Chinese drawings from the early 1600s show how to make paper from bamboo.

  1. Cut plants or pieces of cloth and soak them in water.
  2. Boil the plants and pound them to a pulp.
  3. Mix the pulp with water in a vat. The tiny fibers will hang suspended in the water. Dip a paper mold in and lift it out. It will pick up a thin layer of pulp, forming a sheet.
  4. Turn out the wet sheet of paper and press it to squeeze out the water.
  5. Hang the paper to dry.