Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Paper: Who Uses it Anyway?

Paper’s a worldwide obsession: Japanese paper dangles delicately from racks in Darlinghurst, Sydney

I wonder who uses paper these days, and why?

* Are you using paper for anything today? [toilet paper excepted]

* Do you use it often? What do you use it for?

* Is there a particular kind you prefer? i.e. handmade or machine-made, a certain thickness or color, plain or lined or gridded

* Has your paper consumption changed over the last 10 years? How?

And speaking of paper, here’s a tale of trickery and toilet paper:

Trading Toilet Paper for Treasure

From the memoirs of a British physician at the 19th century court of Siam

One day he was attending an antique lady of 65, one of four who remained from the harem of the deceased Second King, in the Wang Na Palace, Bangkok. In one of her drawers there was newspaper, all carefully torn into pieces of the same size.

?What is that?? said I.

?Toilet paper,? she replied with a peal of laughter.

She did not of course call it that, for [manufactured toilet paper] was unknown to her…When I explained to her what toilet paper was she became interested.

‘If you bring me some,’ she said, ‘you can have a piece of pottery.’

So on my next visit I took her six fat rolls and came away with a beautiful vase of the K?ang H?su period (circa A.D. 1700) worth at least fifty times as much. Exchange is no robbery, I thought; she will enjoy my paper as much as I shall enjoy having her vase.

p. 100-101, A Physician at the Court of Siam

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