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Hanji Paintings (Korean Mulberry Paper)

Hanji is the traditional paper in Korea which is handmade from the inner bark of the Korean Mulberry tree, sunset hibiscus, and natural ash powder (natural lye) of various wild plants such as hot paper stalk, rice straw, beanstalk, and buckwheat stalk. Hanji paper can survive extreme temperatures, humidity, and light effectively. The durable and water-proof qualities of Hanji make it superior to any other type of paper. Academically, Hanji has been used to make documents, books, and artistically it has been used for calligraphy and drawing pictures. Hanji was also used for household items and military armors. As an integral part of everyday Korean life, identity and culture, Hanji has been used for more than 1600 years. Most people do not know which paper was first used for woodblock printing. Nor would they know which paper was used in the world's oldest extant book, printed with movable metal types.

The Great Dharani Sutra (Mugu JeongGwang Dae Darani-Gyeong) is considered to be the oldest printed text in the world. This first woodblock printing made on Hanji was made no later than 751 AD.  And the paper has been preserved for more than 1200 years in a golden box in the middle of a famous tower in South Korea, until its excavation in 1966.

The Tripitaka Koreana is a collection of Buddhist scriptures, consisting of 81,258 wooden printing blocks having over 52 million characters. The carvings took 16 years to make, from 1236 to 1251 AD (UNESCO List). The Tripitaka Koreana, these 81,258 wooden printing blocks were printed on Hanji.

The Jikji was printed in 1377, and this world's oldest extant book printed onto Hanji using movable metal parts. UNESCO confirmed Jikji as the world's oldest metalloid typed printed book in 2001. This Hanji book, Jikji, was printed 78 years prior to Johannes Gutenberg's acclaimed "42-Line Bible."

The True Records of the Chosun Dynasty (1893 books of historical records, covering 472 years of 25 kings), was printed on Hanji and registered with UNESCO.

Even in the 20th and 21st century, Hanji has been a crucial part of Koreans’ art and life. Since the 1960s, several contemporary Korean artists have developed new artistic styles with Hanji in order to show their unique artistic works in unprecedented style, using the special characteristics of Hanji. These new Korean artists have created a popular art trend from Hanji.

These Hanji artists include Young Woo Kwon, Chang-Sup Chung, Seo-Bo Park, Sup Ham, Kwang Young Chun, Ki-Joo Han, and Chul Park.

 Hanji Painting Artist

Sup Ham

 Hanji Painting Artist

Ki-Joo Han

 Hanji Painting Artist

 Chul Park

Hanji Production Process

ChunHo Kim