Paper, a remarkable invention, has truly changed the world. Today, paper is used all day every day, but it was not always such a universal product. It is used for writing, drawing, painting, reading, blowing noses, wrapping presents, insulating houses, and even for currency. Using paper makes life so much easier, and paper even breaks down easily in the environment. People do not often think about how paper got to be so popular and useful, and it is important that they know that the spread of Islamic civilization brought paper to the West. It was actually Muslims who learned how to manufacture paper in large quantities, a technology very important to the spread of ideas in the time of the Golden Age of Islam because paper was important for documents and books. This essay will explore the history of paper, the innovations in paper manufacturing, the spread of paper by the Muslims, and the importance of the spread of paper westward. Paper spread to the West along with the spread of Islam; therefore, paper can be considered when studying the innovations of the Golden Age of Islam because the Muslims are responsible for the spread of the knowledge and technology of paper manufacturing.
Most people do not even think about where paper came from, and most would just say it was invented by the Chinese. But, the story of paper is much more complicated than that. In the Golden Age of Islam, the widespread use of paper was spread along with the spread of Islam in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries, C.E. In fact, the spread of the manufacture of paper and bound books was one of the most important gifts the Muslims gave to the world.
The history of paper really began thousands of years ago when someone decided he had to
write something down, and carving symbols into stone or clay was just not quick enough. Long ago, the Egyptians produced a writing material called papyrus from a type of reed that grew along the Nile River. Egyptians pounded the reeds until they were soft enough to be rolled up into a scroll. The word “paper” actually comes from the word “papyrus”. (Bloom) As time went on, China started making paper with mulberry bark and old rags. (Grotenhuis) But it was the spread of Islam, and the innovative minds of the Muslims, that took the manufacture of paper to new heights.
Paper did originate in China in the first or second century, B.C.E., and at that time it was made from rags and pounded mulberry bark, and its invention may have been an accident. (Cotter) According to Grotenhuis, a eunuch at court invented paper in 105 C.E. Before that, wood, willow sticks, bamboo, and silk were used. By the 300's, most writing in China was done on paper. (Grotenhuis) By the 600's, during the T'ang Dynasty, paper was used for official documents. (Cotter) The Muslims discovered paper in the eighth century when they spread into the territories of western China. (Bloom) The Chinese had shared their knowledge with Japan, Korea, and Central Asia along the...