Chikushi (竹紙)


Paper made from bamboo.

Inner thin skin of a bamboo tree.

Chikushi (bamboo paper)

Chikushi is paper made from bark of bamboo and fiber of bamboo shoot. It had been mainly manufactured in Konan region, China, and also in Japan as a type of Japanese paper. Although it is very thin, its spread of sumi ink is good and is strong against insect, so that many literati loved it, as paper used for calligraphic works and paintings.

Formerly, chikushi made in the Province of Hui Ji, which was famous bamboo production area and was well known in Eastern Jin Dynasty, but for long time it had been treated as poor quality paper due to its weakness and lack of durability. However, with improvement made in the Northern Song Dynasty Period, chikushi paper became stronger, which Wang Anshi and Su Shi (Chinese poet) favored because of its gloss, color development of sumi ink and color retention. Because of these, chikushi had replaced wisteria paper and mashi (paper made of hemp), the former high quality papers, and had become used for letter and calligraphic work and paintings.

Chikushi (inner skin of a bamboo tree)

Chikushi is an inner thin skin of a bamboo tree.

Minteki, a type of flute, has acoustic bore to stick chikushi, which vibrate to give out unique sound and the sound reverberates better when the flute is played. Chikushi made from henon bamboo or black bamboo is used for the flute because it is thin, provides an airtight seal, and can easily be pasted onto the flute with saliva. There are no serviceable substitutes, but some people use a cellophane tape if they cannot obtain one, as a desperate resort. However it is not a favorable choice, as it damages the surface of flute, and the sound is bad because the cellophane tape cannot produce enough vibration. Presently, such flutes are not widely used because they require too much effort in that chikushi has to be collected, techniques for pasting chikushi to the flute by making appropriate adjustments have to be employed, chikushi breaks easily, and the sound produced by these flutes varies depending on the level of humidity. However, such flutes can still be heard in matsuri-bayashi (Japanese music), of Takenge festival in Nagasaki, Hita Gion Matsuri Festival, Karatsu Kunchi Festival and Hamasaki Gion Yamagasa Festival. Preferences with regard to the degree of tension desired when pasting chikushi onto the flute vary according to the region and area.

In addition, chikushi is also used as a stimulant in traditional Chinese medicine.

[Original Japanese]