The Glory of Chinese Printing

Paper, Writing Brush and Ink
Oracle bone inscriptions were first written and then carved. This indicates that brushes and ink had already existed by the 14th century B.C.
By the time of the bamboo slips and silk books, brushes and ink had been in wide use for a long time. During the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period (1100 B.C. --- 221 B.C.) the quality of ink greatly improved. In the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. --- 220 A.D.), pine soot was first used in ink making.
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A picture showing ink making

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Writing Brush of the Han Dynasty

As to paper, historical records and unearthed artefacts have provided evidence that the Chinese people began to use paper as early as the 3rd century B.C., at the beginning of the Western Han Dynasty.
In 105 A.D., a man lived in the Eastern Han dynasty named Cai Lun improved the paper making techniques by using an assortment of materials such as tree bark, worn out cloth and fishnets to produce high quality while cheap to use paper.

From then on, paper was used on an ever wider scale and, by about 300 A.D., it had replaced bamboo slips and silk as the major material for writing books.

The great social demand for reproductions of words and illustrations created the social conditions for the invention of printing. Paper then became the ideal material for mass printing.

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Bamboo slips used for writing

An anciect book copied on silk

Wooden tablets

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Printed gauze with a golden flame design (unearthed from the MaWangDui tomb,Western Han Dynasty.)

Stencil printed, hand painted gauze (unearthed from the MaWangDui tomb, Western Han Dynasty.)

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Paper with map drawn on it (Western Han Dynasty.)

Paper with characters written on it (Eastern Han Dynasty.)

A portrait of Cai Lun


Paper making process (Han Dynasty.)

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