Jun, 2017 - A History of paper
A History of paper: From the origin to the Malay manuscripts

Anne Deguerry is a French Paper artist.  For more than 10 years she has been running her own hand-made paper workshop in Madagascar and then in Malaysia. 

She is a Museum Volunteer in KL and aims at sharing her passion for the fibers, the paper, and the manuscripts of the Malay world.


Anne started talking about the history of paper. Paper was invented to write scriptures, and  later to write stories of day to day life. The Chinese wrote important information on silk. Used tablets of wet clay to keep records of their harvests.

We learned that paper was invented in China 105 CE. The technique to make paper came to Europa via the Silk Road, first in Italy in 1264.  She explained the paper making technique between China and Europe were different and different fibres were used; from rags, cotton, abaca, mulberry, hemp, rice straw, bamboo, etc.

She explained and illustrated early hand-made paper making techniques.

With the invention of the printing technique (Gutenberg bible in 1450) making books became much cheaper, making it available to the wider public. It was then that the development of paper went together with the spread of knowledge.

Gradually scrolls changed to the books as we know them today. Using colourful illustrations, she continued to talk about the use of paper in manuscripts.

Paper has always been related to writing, but we learned that in the Malayan archipelago the clergy also used paper for clothing during religious ceremonies.  Before paper, people wrote on bronze, stone, silk, wood, clay, parchment, papyrus. In this part of the world they used bark to write on in the early days. Early Quran manuscripts in Malay used Javanese paper (Dluwang) . This paper was made from the bark of the Mulberry tree. For  WayangBeber (a puppet art that emerged and developed in Java during pre-Islamic times) Dluwang was also being used.

Anne also explained how and why watermarks were being made. The oldest watermark in Europe was made in 1262 in Italy, being the signature of the paper maker craftsmen.

She finished her talk showing us a book with all different sheets of paper made by her from different fibres and dyes. She makes mostly paper from the banana tree bark.

For more information on this topic visit the following websites:



WASHI paper

Tokyo Paper Museum