The Chinese developed the craft of making paper in antiquity. It remained a closely-guarded secret until Chinese came to Central Asia as captives in the 8th century and taught the process. Mulberry bark is the fibre of choice.


Peeling the mulberry bark

This worker peels bark from the mulberry branches.

She first soaks them in hot water to make them easier to peel.


Stampers

Workers place the bark in these pits where water-powered stampers pound it into a mush.


Paper mush

Periodically the worker stirs up the mixture so that it is evenly mashed.


Water-powered stampers

The stampers are water-powered. This water wheel runs off a "mill race."


Dipper

The mill race is filled by this clever contraption of "found objects." There were tea pots, coffee pots, and just about anything else that that could hold water.


Paper press

Once the mush is properly mixed, crafsmen form it into sheets using screens and press it with weights while it dries. I forget how long it has to stay in the press.


Paper finishing

After drying a stone is used to finish the paper.


Paper shirt

The finished paper can be used to make clothes. They are supposed to be washable.


Dolls

Other gift items are dolls -- a popular choice among the grandparents on the trip


Masks

And masks.

There were also "traditional" paper items such as stationery and postcards.


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