The Mulberry Tree
was central to life in ancient times around the world. Commonly known as the food source for silkworms, the mulberry leaf is considered one of the oldest herbs. Mulberries have also been used throughout Asia, Europe, Middle East, and India as a healing ingredient and traditional medicine to restore health. Mulberry trees produce beautiful handmade papers. It has long fibers, which help to give the paper its distinctive texture and finish.
The paper used for the Grieving Tree is made by a paper master, Chun-ho Kim, a fifth-generation mulberry paper (Hanji) maker in Moonkyung, South Korea. The Louvre Museum in Paris also used master Kim’s Hanji for a restoration project in 2017.
Hanji refers to traditional Korean paper made from the bark of mulberry trees. It is formed with laminated sheets, and finished sheets are pounded to compress the fibers. Although the Hanji making process has evolved over centuries, the most traditional method involves the same steps used for a thousand years.
To make Hanji, master Kim harvests bark from young mulberry trees between November and February from his own land covering approximately 10,000 square meters. Once the mulberry trees are dried under the sun, he puts them in water where they are steamed for eight hours, then removes the outer layer. The inner bark is then boiled in lye for four to five hours. Then, the boiled bark is washed and pounded before mulberry starch is added. The fibers are scooped out of the water and lined horizontally and vertically on a wide rectangle sieve, and finally placed on top of a wooden board to dry.
The messages to the loved ones from the participants will be written on the Moonkyung Hanji mulberry paper and hung on the Grieving Tree. After the closing ritual, the mulberry paper will be sent to the participants for their memorial piece.