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Parchment is a thin material made from calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin, often split. Its most common use was as a material for writing on, for documents, notes, or the pages of a book, codex or manuscript. It is distinct from leather in that parchment is limed but not tanned, therefore it is very reactive with changes in relative humidity and is not waterproof. The finer qualities of parchment are called vellum.
Even in modern times, parchment has been called the "finest writing material ever devised". Modern products do not reach the quality of medieval manufactured parchment.
In the wizarding world, parchments take the role of normal paper, and all wizards and witches use them as writing material, along with quills and ink. Dolores Umbridge uses pink-coloured parchments. Hermione Granger enchanted a piece of parchment bearing the signatures of Dumbledore's Army with a jinx that would punish anyone within the organisation who dared to betray their secrecy. Students wishing to enter the Triwizard Tournament placed pieces of parchment with their names into the Goblet of Fire.
Behind the scenes
- Despite the books making clear that parchment is used in place of paper in the wizarding world, paper shows up in places in the films. For example, Rita Skeeter's writing pad is made of parchment in the books, while it is a normal legal pad in the films. This is presumably for technical or financial reasons, parchment not being so readily available to the prop department.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (mentioned only)