Invented in China—Printing

July 9, 2010

Six hundred years after paper was invented, the Chinese invented printing and the first printed work was Buddhist scripture during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906). The most basic printing techniques are older. Engraving came later. The carving, printing technique originated during the Tang Dynasty

When we talk about paper and printing, it is to collect knowledge, preserve and share it.

Once there were paper books being printed to share Buddhist ideas, the religion spread through China into Korea and Japan. Over a thousand years printing techniques continued to improve until there were multi-colored printings.

Then during the Sung Dynasty, the printing board was invented, which used clay characters. One character was carved into a small block of clay. Then the clay was put in a kiln to heat into a solid block. This method was efficient for printing thousands of sheets. These blocks would be placed together to create sentences and paragraphs of Chinese characters.

Later, the characters were carved into wood. Over time, printing was developed into an art.  In fact, Ancient Chinese culture was preserved due to the invention of paper and these printing methods, which wouldn’t reach Europe until after 1300 AD, almost 800 years later.

Without the Chinese invention of printing, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism may not have spread to the extent that they have.

See With or Without Paper


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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