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From the 1820s pith became a familiar material in Europe, under the name of rice-paper, as a raw material for artificial flowers, and as a medium for export paintings from China. The structure of pith sheets was early recognised as different to that of paper, but it was not until 1852 that William Jackson Hooker was able to describe the source plant, as Aralia papyrifera Hook., now Tetrapanax papyrifer (Hook.) K. Koch. Using his consular contacts, Hooker was able to build up a remarkable collection of pith, as raw materials, artificial flowers and Chinese paintings. Many are described and illustrated in this article, in the context of recent work on the history and conservation of pith paintings.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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