Not only scientific pioneering achievements, as in the area of astronomy, were accomplished in Samarkand. The paper production was also renowned worldwide.
In 751 Chinese soldiers penetrated towards west. Abu Muslim defeated them and returned home with 20,000 prisoners of war. To save their lives, they revealed the Chinese secret of paper production and educated the inhabitants of Samarkand in this craft. Thereupon the people of Samarkand refined the production.
The result was the thinnest, most durable and smoothest paper in the world. One could write on both sides without the ink seeping out on the other side. In the IX and X century, almost all works were written on paper from Samarkand. The center of the paper production was at the Siyob river. 2000 watermills were in operation there, 400 of them for paper production.
So we are not surprised that the water mill we see here looks identical to the rice mill we visited in Uzgen in Kyrgyzstan.
Zarif Muchtorov, himself from a famous family of craftsmen, set himself the goal of reviving paper production. He founds the skilled crafts center Konigil-Meros with the help of the Uzbek government, UNESCO and the agency JEIKA from Japan.
Between 1995 and 2002, he researched worldwide to revive the secret of paper production. We have the pleasure to see the production.
The paper from Samarkand is made from the branches of the white mulberry tree, from the of the Morus alba category. First, the branches are soaked in water for a few days. After that, the bark gets separated from the yellow core. These are then boiled for 5 to 6 hours in a kettle with hot water and then crushed in the mill for seven to eight hours.
After soaking the crushed pulp again in the water, the material is filtered out with a sieve with wood frameworks. The paper is then pressed between absorbent sheets for eight to ten hours before being glued to a smooth wall for drying.
The last step is smoothing the paper on a marble stone with a mussel or an agate stone.
This is the secret to be able to read the writing on this document even after centuries or even millennia.
Today, the paper from the Meros Paper Mill is mainly used for the restoration of historical documents in Uzbekistan and Japan, besides the production of souvenirs.
Please read on > Afrasiab Museum of Samarkand
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