The invention of paper in China more than 2,000 years ago was a wondrous discovery. Worn out fish-nets, hemp rags, and rope were soaked, beaten to a pulp, and then the watery mass was poured onto a cloth stretched over a wooden frame. On its surface, a web of fibers coalesced. After drying in the sun, the sheet of paper was gently pulled from the cloth. Although many uses for paper were discovered, the most important was as a superb writing surface.
Over a millennium, papermaking spread throughout China, then east to Korea and Japan, and finally west along the Silk Road to the rest of the world. The materials, tools, and techniques changed according to what was available in particular locations.
A few scholars have written about hand papermaking in China, but none has been as thorough as Elaine Koretsky. Her remarkable journeys have taken her from the Taklimakan and Gobi Deserts to the Himalayas. Over the course of eighteen field expeditions, she has located forty-two, often remote villages that represent unbroken traditions of papermaking by hand. She interviewed the papermakers, recorded their histories, and documented their processes in both film and digital formats, and in print. Enlightening as well as entertaining,Killing Green chronicles many of the trips that Elaine has made to China over more than a quarter of a century.