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The word paper derives from the Greek term for the ancient Egyptian writing material called papyrus, which was formed from beaten strips of papyrus plants. Papyrus was produced as early as 3500 BC in Egypt, and sold to ancient Greece and Rome. The establishment of the Library of Alexandria in the 3rd century BC put a drain on the supply of papyrus. As a result, according to the Roman historian Pliny the Elder (Natural History records, xiii.21), parchment was invented under the patronage of Eumenes of Pergamum to build his rival library at Pergamum. Outside Egypt, parchment or vellum, made of processed sheepskin or calfskin, replaced papyrus, as the papyrus plant requires subtropical conditions to grow.

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Toilet paper was used in China by at least the 6th century AD.[4] In AD 589, the Chinese scholar-official Yan Zhitui (531-591 AD) once wrote: "Paper on which there are quotations or commentaries from Five Classics or the names of sages, I dare not use for toilet purposes".[4] An Arab traveler to China once wrote of the curious Chinese tradition of toilet paper in AD 851, writing: "[The Chinese] are not careful about cleanliness, and they do not wash themselves with water when they have done their necessities; but they only wipe themselves with paper".[4] Toilet paper continued to be a valued necessity in China, since it was during the Hongwu Emperor's reign in AD 1393 that the Bureau of Imperial Supplies (Bao Chao Si) manufactured 720,000 sheets of toilet paper for the entire court (produced of the cheap rice–straw paper).[4] For the emperor's family alone, 15,000 special sheets of paper were made, in light yellow tint and even perfumed.[4] Even at the beginning of the 14th century, during the middle of the Yuan Dynasty, the amount of toilet paper manufactured for modern-day Zhejiang province alone amounted to ten million packages holding 1,000 to 10,000 sheets of toilet paper each.[4]
The Bencao on traditional Chinese medicine; printed with woodblock in 1249, Song Dynasty
The Bencao on traditional Chinese medicine; printed with woodblock in 1249, Song Dynasty

During the Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907) paper was folded and sewn into square bags to preserve the flavor of tea.[2] During the same period, it was written that tea was served from baskets with multi-colored ...

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