'Han' refers to the Korean people and 'ji' means paper. Han-ji is the term used to describe Korean paper and it's also used to describe the art of making objects using the handmade paper. The paper is made from the bark of the mulberry tree 'dak' and is one of Korea's oldest and most durable products, dating back to the Three Kingdoms period around 130AD.
Mulberry bark produces a low acidity paper. The quality of each sheet depends on the skill of the workers who carefully produce a paper with a specific depth and complexity. The paper has good ventilation due to the fibres not being spread too thinly and because each is long and thin, giving it flexibility and dexterity, as well as a high resilience to weather and moisture. These qualities have made it one of the longest lasting paper products in the world.
Hanji crafts began mainly out of necessity when Korean households needed everyday items that were often unobtainable due to economic reasons, so the people made items out of available materials.
This type of paper is ideal for using in Hanji crafts because when it's wet it molds easily over cardboard or wooden structures and the fibres cling to the object.
Hanji paper was already used extensively in Korean households for covering windows, as wallpaper and when treated, it was used as flooring. These products can still be seen in traditional Korean homes today. Small and large pieces of furniture were made out of cardboard or wood, then covered in Hanji paper and decorated with symbols that were important to their culture and society. They also made bowls, boxes and sets of drawers and then much later, when electricity was introduced, low wattage lanterns.
These days Hanji is seeing a resurgence in popularity across a variety of generations in Korea and the craft is being taught to students in High school.
Many people from different countries have seen and discovered this fine craft and now want to continue doing it in their home coun tries. Up until now, outside of Korea, little has been known about this craft called Hanji and nearly all of the information available is in Korean.
My wish is to introduce this craft to a more global audience and in so doing, help to keep Hanji, this very traditional Korean craft, alive. You can learn more about it on my blog, which you can access here.