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For practitioners of Chinese calligraphy and painting, traditional rice paper (also known as xuan paper) is the preferred choice. Soft, flexible, and smooth, xuan paper provides a clean slate for writing and painting, and it is also surprisingly strong against the test of time. For proof, look to the many ancient scrolls and paintings on rice paper that retain some of their vibrancy today. For beginners and experts alike, quality paper for practice and finished works is essential. Read below for some of our favorites.
1. Teagas Sumi Paper
This cream-colored paper is sized, meaning there is an alum coating that makes the paper less absorbent and therefore more forgiving of imperfect technique. It also lends itself well to paintings that require multiple washes since it can hold up against high levels of liquid and pigment.
2. Megrez Practice Rice Paper
Raw (or sheng) paper like this one from Megrez is highly absorbent, which is valued by experienced calligraphers for the depth and vividness it allows and by painters for the soft gray tones it permits that are not possible on sized paper. These large sheets come trifolded to reduce the crumpling that too often occurs when shipping this airy material. Any stubborn folds can be removed with a bit of water or a hot iron.
3. JapanBargain Rice Paper
JapanBargain’s option is a go-to for instructors and students. The paper has a smooth side and a rough side, and, though traditionally calligraphers want the smooth side, other artists like to use the back of the paper for things like stamping. It is very thin paper, so be sure to not use too thin of ink.
4. Gnatural Handmade Decorative Rice Paper
For a more natural option reminiscent of Thai mulberry paper, these thin sheets are handmade using a traditional process and decorated with natural pressed leaves and visible fibers. Those looking for a canvas for a finished project will find a delicate option in this half-ripe xuan paper.
5. Hmayart Single Layer Xuan Paper
Semi-sized paper, predictably, splits the different between sized and unsized, offering you the best attributes of both. Hmayart’s paper is made up of 40% qing tan bark and 60% rice straw and is about half the thickness of standard printer paper.