Paper has played a pivotal role in the development of human culture. It has documented and at times critically shaped social, economic, cultural, political and religious history for more than two millennia. Our use of portable substrates for personal expression can be traced back to the 7th millennium BCE. The development of true writing systems in the 4th millennium BCE prompted the manufacture of substrates such as papyrus and clay tablets. An array of readily available materials such as palm leaves, birch bark, strips of bamboo have also been utilized for writing throughout history. The invention of paper marked a leap in the technology, providing a material that was more cost effective, and could be made from a variety of raw materials available in most parts of the world. Due to its cost effectiveness and relative ease of production, paper superseded other writing substrates. Even in today’s digital world, paper continues to be used for printing and writing and for numerous other applications the world over.
My research into the craft of papermaking started with a 5-month research trip to Japan when I worked and observed papermaking in various parts of the country. Currently I'm continuing to investigate the traditions of treating Japanese paper with kakishibu (persimmon tannin) and konnyaku (devils tongue root).
During my MFA studies at the University of Iowa Center for the Book my thesis project examined the establishment of papermaking in Central Asia in the 7th to 8th century CE. Additionally, it investigated the historical and contemporary status of papermaking in Uzbekistan based on primary sources gathered during my research trip to Uzbekistan in 2017, and from historical sources. My MFA thesis The Papermaking Tradition of Central Asia can be found here.
Currently I'm continuing my research on the history of papermaking in Central Asia, investigating the local development of tools and techniques as well as the link between East Asian and Central Asian papermaking techniques.