Cultural: Handmade paper

Paper is the medium of culture and therefore the history is recorded. The good quality of water is a crucial condition for paper production. Puli is also called “hometown of handmade paper”. Puli has become an important paper production area in Taiwan owing to the clean water.

廣興紙寮 (04)

The paper production industry of Puli initiated during Japanese colony in 1935. Japanese discovered the advantageous environment for producing paper so they built factories. From 1935 to 1945, Puli had established a foundation of paper making. After returning to the Republic of China, paper demands were mainly handmade paper; thus paper making factories were set up in Puli.

In 1970, the paper production in Puli developed rapidly as the economy grew in Taiwan. Factories were numerous. Handmade paper started to export to Japan and Korea. The paper production reached its prime between 1980 and 1990. There were more than 50 factories in Puli providing handmade paper to Japan and southeastern Asia.

After 1990, various factors such as insufficient labors, rising wage, environmental protection and difficulty to access ingredients, led to impacts and challenges on paper production. Many factories could not afford the rising cost and thus closed.

廣興紙寮 (07)In 1994, culture and history practitioners and local entrepreneurs proposed the concept “advanced tourism, culturalized industry, living art” to bring new hope to the traditional industries and tourism. Old factories set up galleries to exhibit art works of paper. In addition, they present the procedure of paper production and introduce the ingredients to visitors. Visitors can make paper themselves. This has become an attraction in Puli. Besides, factories have been improving their techniques. They now produce high-quality handmade paper as well as creative products and successfully promote paper industry in Puli nationwide and overseas. Also, as the awareness of environmental protection rises, recycled paper made of grass has become a trend. Guangxing Paper Studio develops recycled paper made of water bamboo’s skin called “Xifuxuan” (cherish fortune paper). Other studios use bitter vine, stems of betel palm leaves and squeezed sugarcane to make recycled paper. They are all new models of transformation of traditional industries and turned a new leaf of paper production industry.