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China paper distinct from India paper?



Dear Book_Arts-L subscribers. I have a terminology question for the
paper experts. I need to write thesaurus scope notes for two terms,
China paper and Index paper. It would seem that these two types of
paper are very similar in some characteristics - soft, very thin, used for
making proofs of certain kinds of prints. A small complication is added by
the fact that the term India paper is sometimes used to mean what is
usually referred to as China paper.

Can anyone tell me in which characteristics they differ? For instance, one
dictionary (Roberts & Etherington) tells me India paper is opaque, and
since 1875 at least, made from chemically-processed hemp and rags. It
does not state whether China paper is translucent or opaque, but do
state that it is pale yellow in colour, and made from bamboo fibers.  Is an
essential distinction the material from which the two are made, i.e., that
India paper can be defined as always made from hemp and rags, and
China paper always from bamboo? Is this consistently and historically
true?  Another source states that China paper contains fine clay in its
mixture, which imparts a smooth finish. Does this distinguish it from India
paper? Or does the distinction, if any, lie in some other characteristic that
my sources do not mention?

Any and all advice gratefully received. If you think it appropriate, you may
respond directly to me, instead of the list, at achipman@xxxxxxxxxx Thanks
in advance!

Alison Chipman
Editor, Vocabulary Program
Getty Information Institute


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