Xuan rice paper, pure in texture but resistant to creasing, corrosion, moths and mold, has been used for hundreds of years by calligraphers and painters.
The time-honored brand Hongxing Xuan Paper, an arm of the China Xuan Paper Group, opened its first branch store last month in Thames Town, selling more than 300 varieties of Xuan paper.
The paper takes its name from the city of Xuancheng in Anhui Province, where it was invented. Nowadays, only paper made by hand using a technique passed down from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) can be called Xuan paper. The authentic variety comes from the city’s Jingxian County.
“I’m happy to provide such quality paper for the artists in Songjiang and Shanghai,” said owner Liu Nushi, who moved from Xuancheng to Songjiang more than 10 years ago.
China Xuan Paper Group is the largest producer of the paper, turning out 700-800 tons a year. That accounts for about 85 percent of supply. Another 20 smaller factories also make the paper in Jingxian County.
A machine-made version that has become popular in Zhejiang, Sichuan and Anhui provinces isn’t considered to be of the same high quality. Machine-made paper costs no more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,470) a ton, while authentic Xuan paper costs up to 20 times more.
Several years ago, counterfeit version of Xuan paper appeared on the scene, but a government crackdown has largely eliminated it.