Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List has a new entrant – ‘washi’ paper from Japan.
Japanese traditional handmade paper, known as ‘washi’, has made it to Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. This move could help regenerate interest and create international awareness about the ancient craft, while also sustaining the washi paper production industry.
As per reports, products registered from the paper making industry include Hosokawa-gami, washi from Saitama prefecture, Honmino-gami from Gifu prefecture and Sekishubanshi from Shimane prefecture.
Across prefectures, those dedicated to the craft have had their trade passed down from generations. Refraining from a deviation in traditional techniques, the special washi paper is produced by hand, with the use of fibers from paper mulberry, which is a flowering plant native to Asia.
Known for its durability, the washi paper (also called ‘kozogami’) bears resemblance to cloth rather than other delicate papers made from the wood pulp of gampi tree bark, mitsumata shrubs, or those made from bamboo, hemp, rice or wheat. Even after being treated for water resistance, it remains sturdy.
The Japanese government had proposed the registration of the above three products with Unesco in 2013, which was accepted by the organization’s Intergovernmental Committee in Paris on November 26, 2014. So far, Japan has 22 Intangible Cultural Heritage registrations.
Photo Credits: japantimes.co.jp