Sky lanterns are constructed from tissue paper and originated in China. But, did you know that paper itself was first made in the same country?


The original writing material was papyrus which first appeared in Egypt around 2400 BC. It was made from the sliced sections of the flower stem of the papyrus plant, pressed together and dried, and then used from writing or drawing. But it was China that created paper as we know it today. A courtier named Ts’ai-Lun, from Lei-yang was the first recorded inventor of paper, around 105 years after the birth of Christ. He presented paper and a papermaking process to the Chinese Emperor, and the event was recorded in the imperial court records. The ancient Chinese made paper from plant fibres, such as hemp. The fibres were first soaked and then beaten into a sludge

The sludge was strained through a cloth sieve attached to a frame that also served as a drying platform for the resulting paper. What we know as the paper we use today is actually made from pulped cellulose fibres like wood, cotton or flax.


Over the centuries, paper making has become a true art form, and beautiful papers are being made today for basic uses like newspapers and magazines and writing pads, to packaging and more. But artists and crafts people sometimes make their own paper, using a wide range of colours, and adding textures to them including plant material, flowers, minerals, sand, and much more. The tissue paper used to make sky lanterns is the result of sophisticated technology, where paper can be created that is both strong and light enough to make superb hot air balloons.


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