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Deutsches Technikmuseum - September

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The Websites of the donation Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin at a glance:

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The donation contains six locations:

Exhibit of the Month September 2016

The picture shows three brown sacks that are filled with the dried fibres of the plants Kozo, Gampi and Mitsumata, each with different grey-brown hues.

Well-travelled and rare in Europe - the plant raw materials for "Washi", traditional handmade Japanese papers. © SDTB / Photo: C. Kirchner

Kozo, Gampi and Mitsumata, 1987

In 1987 a traditional Japanese paper making workshop was added to the Deutsches Technikmuseum’s first permanent paper technology exhibition.

It elicited memories of the early Asiatic roots of paper production, a process that didn’t become established in Europe until as late as the 12th century.

In 2014 UNESCO declared the Japanese paper making tradition - Washi - an intangible cultural inheritance.

Our exhibit of the month consists of the dried raw materials Kozo (Paper mulberry plant), Mitsumata (Oriental paperbush) and Gampi (Thymelaeaceae). These base materials for the production of paper travelled to Berlin in three large sacks 29 years ago. From 1987 to 2008 they served as exhibition decorations in the museum.

Photo: An older man in warm work clothes is bent over and holding a large rectangular wooden scooping screen that hangs over a water-filled vat.

Master Naito in his workshop at the foot of Mount Fuji. Photo: Gangolf Ulbricht

Traditional Japanese papermaking

Only the bast fibres from the plants are used in traditional Japanese papermaking.

The long-fibred raw material is processed by means of soaking, removal of small knots or tangles, boiling in ash lye, beating with wooden strikers and a special scooping technique.

The result is a remarkably age-resistant, chlorine and iron free paper that is pH neutral as well. Nowadays such paper plays an important role in preserving books and artworks.

In addition to the raw materials, it is the method of production that induces the long bast fibres to become felted and to form a thin paper with an impressive stability.

Welcome to a special guest

Perhaps now our raw materials on display will finally be transformed into paper: From September 29th to October 1st 2016 Naito Tsuneo, master of handmade paper from Fujinomiya, will be our guest and provide our visitors with a rare look into his traditional technique.