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Chinese inventions: paper and printing

Posted by: | September 17, 2012 | No Comment |

Without Chinese contributions to western society, news-printing and the spreading of news may have been delayed by many years. Ts’ ai Lu of the Chinese imperial court invented paper in A.D. 105. Others around this time may have attempted to create paper, but many were using raw silk. Ts’ai Lu was able to find cheaper materials to make paper, thus allowing it to spread around the world.

Photo Courtesty of Robert C. Williams Paper Museum

Without the Chinese invention of paper, newspapers and other printed materials would not be as widely circulated. Some copies of Gutenberg’s Bible were printed on parchment paper. For one copy of the Bible to be printed on parchment paper, the skin of 300 sheep were required.

Bi Sheng of China invented the moveable type during the Song Dynasty in the 11th century. He hand-carved thousands of Chinese character into clay, then baked them and used them for printing.  Because of the nature of the Chinese language, with its written language based on thousands of characters, the moveable type was not used as often as the woodblock method. This invention eventually reached Europe in the 15th century, leading to Gutenberg’s invention of the metal moveable type.

The world’s oldest printed book, a Buddhist text from 868. Photo Courtesty of http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/song/readings/inventions_gifts.htm

 

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