To look after the Xuan paper simply keep it clean and dry.
Xuan paper can be kept indefinitely (as recorded so far it can be kept for 1050 years without significant ageing problem). In fact many artists deliberately keep Xuan paper to age, and aged Xuan paper has higher market value within China (sometimes over 1,000USD/sheet). In theory, the longer the Xuan Paper is kept, the more stable the paper is, so the painting or calligraphy will also be stable and lasting.
The “raw” Xuan paper that is used so frequently for calligraphy and Shanshui painting is untreated and extremely absorbent so moisture is the main concern. So store the paper in a dry place. If you have central heating and no rising damp, you may not have any damp problem, otherwise it is often recommended to keep the Xuan Paper in a raised area of the room, such as the top of the bookshelf. It’s suggested that the room where the paper is stored is aired and kept fresh and clean, it is also advisable to open the Xuan paper once or twice per year when the weather is good to let the Xuan paper breath in fresh air and release any trapped moisture.
How to keep free of moths and mould?
The reason that Xuan Paper can be kept for thousands years is largely due to the fact that Xuan Paper is quite resistant to biological attack compared with other types of raw paper. The repeated steaming of Xuan Paper raw materials increases the paper’s alkalinity and this is an important part of it’s durability, unlike some ancient papers that become moth-eaten from moth caterpillars.
Having said that, Xuan paper is made of natural material and not chemically protected like modern papers, so if you are storing the paper for a long time, you can use moth repellent, traditionally borneol: wrap the borneol or other repellent in tissue paper and avoid any direct contact with the paper.
If you do find any mold starting, a good airing and half-day exposure to moderate sunshine can normally solve the problem.
Two Special Notes:
- if the Xuan paper is damp, do not put the Xuan paper in direct sunshine to dry it because the strong sunshine might damage the fibres. You should just open the damp Xuan paper and leave it to dry naturally in fresh air.
- always keep the Xuan paper away from oil since the paper is very absorbent. Keep the paper away from kitchen or dinning room is a good idea.
If your Xuan paper is creased or was folded you can straighten it. There are a number of different ways to straighten Xuan paper, the simplest are:
- Small paper can simply be unfolded on a flat surface and flattened by putting some heavy books on top. After a couple of days the paper will be naturally flattened.
- If you need to use the paper urgently, you can also unfold the paper on a flat surface and use a spray bottle to sprinkle a fine mist of water on the paper. Once the paper dries, it should become flat. Xuan paper can also be steamed flat.
To straighten a piece of paper that has already been used, again it can be flattened by weight, or – carefully – with a small amount of moisture – this is more risky and works best with higher quality inks.
The more sophisticated way to straighten Xuan Paper would be quite similar to the skills used to mount finished painting and calligraphy:
- First, lay out the creased Xuan Paper on a flat surface.
- moisturize with clean water using a clean, soft wide brush to brush the creased Xuan Paper gently. Be careful not to make the paper too wet.
- lift the moisturized Xuan Paper and attach it on a smooth flat wall.
- use a dry soft wide brush to get rid of air and flatten the paper.
- Wait until the paper is dry.
- Once the paper is dry, you can take it off the wall.
This is the safest way to straighten large size Xuan Paper.
Mounting, Framing etc
Traditionally finished Xuan paper is mounted on long silk scroll. The thin xuan paper on silk scroll can be safely rolled for storage and transportation and unrolled and hung as needed. There are special techniques for mounting paper and it is not recommended to mount with ordinary modern glue.
Xuan paper and traditional Chinese inks are normally self-preserving and do not need to be covered to stay in good condition. Of course nowadays your painting can also be framed using a modern frame.
Mounted and Decorative Xuan Papers
A range of Xuan papers mounted on card, gold, red white and other colours and designs, cut into square, circle or other traditional shapes and…
Xuan Paper Buyer Guide
This guide >40 different grades of Xuan papers in our shop. Perfect Xuan has the highest concentration of quality tree bark, which is the most…
Chinese Su Ink landscape painting tips with Wang Zirang
Wang Zirang a follower of Huang Binhong and leading Xin'An artist tells us about Chinese Su ink painting.
China’s Four Treasures of the Study
The "Four Treasures of the Study" 文房四宝 wén fáng sì bǎo, the brush 笔 bǐ, ink 墨 mò ink stone yàn, and the paper…
Xuan Paper Making – a UNESCO intangible heritage
Xuan paper making matured over 1,000 years ago in the Tang dynasty, following original invention of paper by Cai Lun (7-121) and is regarded as one…
138x70cm Plus Size xuan paper (26)This is traditional handmade Xuan paper is made by two people working together on a large frame. One 138*70cm (54.33×27.56inches) “Plus” size sheet is 0.966㎡, equivalent to 15 sheets A4 paper. [Red Star versions are labelled 138x69cm.]
138x70cm Plus Size xuan paper (26)
Decorated Xuan Paper (33)A range of unmounted Xuan papers in traditional shapes and designs and a variety of sizes.
Decorated Xuan Paper (33)
Fans for decorating with your own painting/calligraphy/embroidery (12)These are silk and fabric alternatives to paper pre-mounted onto fan ready for decoration with painting and/or calligraphy. Silk/fabric fans can also be used to do embroidery.
Fans for decorating with your own painting/calligraphy/embroidery (12)
Painting Silk (4)
Painting Silk (4)
Practice Xuan Paper (8)Machine-made Xuan Paper for Practice which is sold in sets of 20 complete 35cm * 138cm sheets. This is effectively the same as 10 sheets Plus size paper cut lengthways to two long strips, suitable for calligraphy practice.
Practice Xuan Paper (8)
Professional Song Paper (17)This category lists different special handmade art papers which are made with high percentage of special tree fibers. These fibers are from different types of trees, such as Yan Pi 雁皮, Zhu Pi 楮纸皮, and special fibers mixture for Ma paper 麻纸. They are perfect choice for professionals. At the same time, they are also lovely choices for any level…
Professional Song Paper (17)
Shikishi card mounted Xuan paper (19)A range of Xuan papers mounted on card (called Shikishi in Japanese) as featured in "How to paint Gongbi style: Lotus Out of Water". These include gold, red, white and other colours and designs, in square, circle or other traditional shapes, mounted onto square card. Available in 38x38cm (15inch) and 33cmx33cm (13 inch) sizes.
Shikishi card mounted Xuan paper (19)
半熟宣 BanShuXuan half-sized xuan paper (31)The half-sized or half-cooked Xuan paper is deliberately less absorbent than raw unsized Xuan paper, while remaining more absorbent that the cooked Xuan, so it is flexible for different styles of painting. This category includes Shikishi card papers which are also half sized.
半熟宣 BanShuXuan half-sized xuan paper (31)
夹宣 Double Xuan (3)Double Xuan is double layer Xuan paper, it is literally twice the thickness and weight of standard single Xuan. This means it can hold more moisture and is popular among artists with a watercolour background and also often recommended for students as more forgiving than single Xuan when learning to control the flow of ink.
夹宣 Double Xuan (3)
日本纸 Japanese Paper (3)Fine papers made in Xuancheng area to Japanese standards in a similar process to the Xuan papers but formulated for Japanese requirements, includes Mulberry bark.
日本纸 Japanese Paper (3)
温州皮纸 Wenzhou Pi Paper (1)温州皮纸 (Wēnzhōu pízhǐ) WenZhou Pi paper is a famous handmade paper for sumi-e, Chinese painting and calligraphy, also know as Mulberry Paper or Washi. This paper is made from the bark of Paper Mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera) and produces a stronger thicker paper than Xuan paper which is made from the bark of the Peteroceltis tatarinowii tree (青檀 Qīng tán).…
温州皮纸 Wenzhou Pi Paper (1)
熟宣 Shu Xuan sized or cooked Xuan paper (7)The sized papers are suitable for painting styles such as Gongbi detail painting which require less absorbent paper. These handmade Xuan papers are made with Eulaliopsis binata called in Chinese 龙须草 “Dragon beard grass” also known as Chinese alpine rush. They are deliberately not as absorbent as the tree bark paper to facilitate different styles of painting.
熟宣 Shu Xuan sized or cooked Xuan paper (7)