arsenic-treated traditional papers available?

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU
Thu Jul 21 10:42:27 UTC 2005

Dear Jonathan,

Yes, there was a Tibetan paper industry. Historico-legendary sources
attribute its beginnings to the era of Srong btsan sgam po,
but this is not credible. It is possible, however, that there
was some low level production during the later imperial period --
8th - 9th cent. In any event, I have found proof positive
of a relatively well-developed paper industry in Kong po (SE Tibet)
beginning not later than the mid-12th c. Manuscript colophons
of that period sometimes make precise ref. to Kong po as the
source of the paper used. Because, however, this was always
a cottage industry, there was no distribution or sales network.
One had to commission paper for one's own use. This was still the
case in rural Nepal when I lived there in the 70s-80s. To print
books from blocks at most places in the region, one had to arrange
paper and ink, and often also bring one's own printer! Only
a few monasteries printed quantities of books for sale.


Matthew Kapstein
Chicago and Paris

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