Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Keio University's online course, 古書から読み解く日本の文化: 和本の世界. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds Here I will go over the types of paper used in traditional bookmaking. Books are made of paper, so knowing about the paper used to make them is paramount to properly understand books. The Chinese history Hou Han Shu (J. Gokanjo, Book of the Later Han) states that paper was invented in 105C.E. by a man called Cai Lun (J. Sairin). However, specimens dating from earlier times have been found in tombs in China, so the invention of paper must date from the pre-Christian era. From China, paper spread to Japan. Chinese papermaking methods were adopted and later refined and developed locally, leading to a great variety of different types which were then used to make books.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds There are so many different types of paper that it would take a whole course to cover them all, so this discussion will be limited to the main paper types used in Japanese bookmaking. I want to start with this book [1] which was made with the first type of paper to be brought to Japan from China. I will talk about the content of the book later. The first part has been restored so I am going to go straight to the latter part. The paper used in this section is called mashi and is made from hemp (asa).

Skip to 2 minutes and 0 seconds Traditional paper was made by mixing vegetable fibers with glue, spreading them into thin sheets, and leaving them to harden, and the first plant to be used was hemp. However, mashi paper gradually fell into disuse in the Heian period (794-1185), and a different type of paper came to be used in its place, which is the one used in this book [2]. Again, I will talk about the book itself later. There is significant damage from insects. It is made from the kōzo plant (paper mulberry) and it is called kōzo-gami, or, using the onyomi reading, choshi.

Skip to 2 minutes and 49 seconds The paper mulberry can grow to a very large size and it is very easy to cultivate, so it is still very popular today as a type of Japanese paper (washi) and has been in use for a long time. This book here [3] was also made with kōzo-gami (choshi). The mulberry fibers are long, so the paper made from them is very soft. Because of the length of the fibers and the gaps between them, ink penetrates very easily, so it is unsuited to book designs like this one that has text on both sides of the page [4]. Kōzo paper is not good for double-sided writing as ink penetrates very easily The best kind of paper for double-sided writing is the hishi.

Skip to 4 minutes and 10 seconds The “hi” in the word hishi simply means “beautiful” (shi is the on’yomi of kami [paper]) so it has nothing to do with the material it is made of. Hishi is made from the gampi plant (Wikstroemia Sikokiana) which still today is impossible to grow in a nursery, it can only be sourced in the wild and therefore is only available in extremely small amounts. However, the paper obtained from it has a distinctive glossiness and transparency to it which makes it extremely luxurious. Moreover, because the fibers are short and closely connected, it is not as absorbent, and so it can be used on both sides.

Skip to 4 minutes and 56 seconds Compared to kōzo paper (choshi), which is soft, hishi feels hard to the touch and when you turn the pages it produces this characteristic crackling sound. Another characteristic is that compared to kōzo paper, which is relatively light, hishi feels full and heavy. Next, from the gampi, which cannot be grown in a nursery, we move on to a type of paper which is often used in its place [5], and which is made from the mitsumata plant (Edgeworthia chrysantha). It is very thin, and it also makes the characteristic sound when you turn the pages.

Skip to 6 minutes and 19 seconds It is very thin, so it is, page per page-this is a book [6] made with kōzo (mulberry) paper- about half the thickness of a book made with a different type of paper. Mitsumata paper is not always thin but the thin type was the most widely used variety. So we have looked at four types of paper but each type, for example the kōzogami, can come in thin or thick sheets, or can be processed in different ways to produce different effects, so there is indeed a vast variety.

Skip to 6 minutes and 59 seconds Looking at the way paper was processed, for example in this book [7] you see that blue and purple patterns were applied to the paper, this kind of decorated paper is called “cloudy paper” (uchigumori-gami) or “cloud paper” (kumogami). In some cases the patterns were stamped on, in other pictures were hand-drawn using real gold or silver, Besides these, there is also this kind of item. The paper used in this book [8], I wonder if you can see it, you should see that it kind of sparkles. The reason is that before writing on it the surface of the leaf was coated with a mixture of glue and ground mica rock to obtain this characteristic sparkle.

Skip to 8 minutes and 17 seconds Moreover, you can’t see it just by looking at it, but if you actually hold the book it is very heavy. The paper is basically from the same family as the kōzogami, but fine rock dust was added to the fibers in order to fill the gaps and make the surface smoother. This kind of paper is called maniaigami. Maniai means “makeshift”, “substitute”, and it was used as a substitute for gampi paper (hishi), because gampi is so rare and precious. And then there is also the sparkling paper made using mica rock that I mentioned earlier.

Skip to 9 minutes and 34 seconds One more type I want to show you is this paper here [9], I am not sure if you can see it, underneath the writing you should be able to see the patterns. Not the red line, but these drawings in gold and silver. They were made using real gold and silver paint known as kindei and gindei literally, “golden mud” and “silver mud” respectively. The decorations were made on the leaves before they were written on. Such patterns are called shitae (underpaintings).

Skip to 10 minutes and 16 seconds There are many different varieties of this kind of decorated paper, and we will no doubt come across some of them as we talk about specific books, but I trust that you now have a sense of the variety of paper types used in traditional Japanese bookmaking.

和本に用いられた紙の種類

書物は文字や図絵を保存するための道具です。書物の主たる材料は紙であることは言うまでもありません。紙は『後漢書(ごかんじょ)』という中国の歴史書によると、西暦105年に蔡倫(さいりん)という人物によって発明されたことになっていますが、紀元前には存在していたと考えられています。紙は植物の繊維を糊で薄いシート状に固めたものと説明できます。日本の歴史書の『日本書紀』では610年に紙の製法が朝鮮半島の高句麗(こうくり)から伝えられたことになっています。長い歴史の間に様々な植物を用いて製作されたようですが、日本で主に用いられた植物は4種類です。その植物とは麻(あさ)・楮(こうぞ)・雁皮(がんぴ)・三椏(みつまた)のことです。

中国で最初に発明されたのが麻で作られた麻紙(まし)で、日本では奈良時代の8世紀頃までは用いられていましたが、平安時代の9世紀になると、桑科こうぞ属の楮で作られる楮紙(ちょし・こうぞがみ)がこれに変わって良くもちいられるようになりました。

楮は栽培しやすい植物ですので楮紙は量産できますし、加工もしやすく使い勝手の良い紙なので、現代にいたるまで和紙の代表的な存在となっています。産地や製法もさまざまで多種多様な楮紙がありますが、繊維が長くて軟らかく軽いのが基本的な特徴です。墨が染み込みやすいので、基本的に両面の使用には向きませんが、厚く漉いたものを叩くなどの加工をすれば、両面の利用も可能でした。

雁皮

沈丁花科がんぴ属の雁皮から作られるのが斐紙(ひし)で、「斐」は美しいという意味で、奈良時代には存在していたことが判っています。雁皮の繊維は細くて短く光を通しやすいものなので、斐紙は緻密で強い上に、滑らかで透明感もある確かに美しい紙です。西洋の薄く上等な羊皮紙とよく似ている感じがします。墨を染み込ませないので、薄く漉いた薄様(葉)(うすよう)であっても両面の利用が可能です。黄褐色の卵の殻の様子に似ることから「鳥の子」との別名もあります。雁皮は現在でも人工栽培ができないそうで生産量も少なく、楮紙よりも高級な紙であると言えます。

三椏

同じ沈丁花科でみつまた属の三椏で作られるのが三椏紙(みつまたがみ)です。古くから作られたとも言われますが、18世紀中頃から栽培されるようになって急速に普及し、紙質が比較的近い斐紙の代用的な存在として、特に薄漉きのものが版本に用いられました。この他の植物を用いたものもありますし、複数の植物を混ぜたり、石やお米の粉などといった植物繊維以外のものを加えたりと、和紙の種類は非常に多いのですが、ともかくも本の作り方や構造に合わせて使用する紙が選択されることが多かったようです。

ビデオで紹介した書物

Layout

1. 四分律 2. 法華経単字 3. 平家物語
4. 僻案抄 5と6. 拾遺和歌集 7. 厳島詣記
8. ふんしやう 9. 源氏物語系図  

あなたが日本の貴重書に使われた紙に興味があるのなら

このコースに掲載されている貴重書に使用されている紙に迫ったコース「The Art of Washi Paper in Japanese Rare Books(古書から読み解く日本の文化3 和本を彩る紙の世界)」を提供しています。 このコースでは、日本の貴重書で用いられている紙(和紙)や、装訂、デザインについて学びます。

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

古書から読み解く日本の文化: 和本の世界

Keio University