Parchment - genuine complete animal hides
An ancient writing media
We owe the majority of our knowledge of the past to chroniclers active during the late Middle Ages who wrote down their accounts on strong parchment and leather. In contrast to the more-fragile papyrus, parchment is made from animal skins (leather). Though there is some debate about the oldest parchment finds, some Egyptian examples can be dated to around 2700 BC. Rare manuscripts and texts can be found written on this valuable ancient material which, even today, is still made from the skin of calves, cattle, sheep and goats. These carefully cleaned and prepared skins were extremely valuable, and were often recycled by scraping off previous texts to produce a clean surface.
Other parchment applications
Parchment used for writing material remained a coveted commodity for many centuries. However, beyond this it was also used in window openings to form a light, permeable windbreak, and as a fabric covering for wooden shields to prevent the wood splintering under sword blows. Parchment is still used today as a covering for wooden prosthetics.
- whole skin approx. 80 x 60cm
- Minimum size, each piece is slightly different by nature
- thoroughly cleansed
- writeable on one smooth side
- approx. 1-2 mm thick
- you receive a complete roll/skin
- made from goat- or sheepskin
Parchment is a natural material whose surface is not paper-smooth and may have scars and imperfections. However, this unique surface which gives this ancient material its contemporary appeal, and despite these flaws, parchment is relatively easy to edit and make into unique prints.
Historically authentic design
Using real parchment in art classes motivates students, shows you have great confidence in their abilities, and encourages them to do their best. The history of parchment itself is very interesting, especially the fact that its production has changed very little over 5,000 years.
Natural skin - a unique manufacturing process
With parchment, the shape is slightly irregular and there may be small holes at the edges. These are sometimes straightened with a knife and/or will have an irregular colouring.
One of the oldest writing materials
Archaeologists have dated the oldest Egyptian parchment finds to around 2700 BC, and it was not until the end of the Middle Ages that parchment was finally replaced by cheaper paper, and so became a luxury writing medium. The great advantage of parchment is its durability and extended lifespan, plus the fact that it can be repeatedly reused - scraping off older writing with a knife or pumice stone leaves a fresh clean surface. Parchment is made of an animal skin - usually a goat or sheep - from which the hair is removed with lime water and then scraped clear of residues. Unlike leather, parchment is not tanned and the skin remains clear and translucent.
Plinius Secundus writing about parchment
Pliny the Elder reports that, in the 2nd century BC, there was a dispute between King Eumenes II of Pergamon and the Pharaoh Ptolemy Epiphanes over whose library was the largest in the world at that time. To prevent Eumenes being able to surpass the Egyptian library in Alexandria, Ptolemy enacted a ban on the export of papyrus. As a result, parchment was successfully developed and used in Pergamon as a viable alternative to papyrus, and became even better. The name parchment is therefore derived from the city of Pergamon. Although parchment was not actually invented there, it was at least greatly improved in quality and developed into a true replacement for papyrus, which, as a regionally produced product, could not be imported.
Because it was both flexible and durable, parchment permanently replaced papyrus as a writing material. In addition, parchment could be repeatedly overwritten once the top layer was abraded with pumice or a scraper. And since parchment is translucent, it was used in lamps and windows during the Middle Ages.
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