Selecting Paper for Chinese Calligraphy

Chinese use special kinds of paper for doing calligraphy and painting. Because of the characteristics of the brush and ink, only Shuan Paper, Mien Paper, and Mao Bien Paper are suitable for Chinese calligraphy and painting. Paper for drawing, printing, and watercolor will not be perfectly compatible with Chinese ink.

1 - Shuan Paper (mistakenly called Rice Paper in the West) 
The best paper for Chinese calligraphy is Xuan Paper or Shuan Paper. It is commonly called Rice Paper in English-speaking countries. (They are not made of rice at all.) Its somewhat expensive for beginners to practice on Shuan Paper. Shuan Paper is suitable for ink absorbency and brush motion in various speeds. Its high quality feature makes it the perfect choice for quality Chinese calligraphy and painting.


2 - Mien Paper("Cotton Paper" is a Chinese term used for this paper, though it's not made of cotton.)
Mien Paper is very popular for practicing Chinese painting and calligraphy. Its cheaper than Shuan Paper; however, its quality is somewhat inferior. Many brands of paper in sheets and especially rolls sold in American art stores for oriental calligraphy and painting are actually Mien Paper, not Shuan Paper or the so-called "rice paper."


3 - Mao Bien Paper(Bamboo Paper)
Mao Bien Paper is cheaper than Mien Paper. Most beginners start practicing calligraphy with Mao Bien Paper with printed grids for positioning of the strokes. Mao Bien Paper is a low cost substitute for most people to practice. Most Mao Bien Paper is categorized into two types: the Nine-Palace Grids and the Rice-Character Grids. Each type helps the beginners to position the strokes more correctly and accurately on the writing paper.


Nine-Palace & Rice-Character Mao Bien Paper


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