The Glory of Chinese Printing

Printing in the Qing Dynasty

Printing in ancient China reached yet another peak during the Qing Dynasty (1644 --- 1911 A.D.). First of all, the scale of printing production greatly expanded not only in the capital but also in other regional centres of China. Networks of private printers and workshops were also developed. The varieties of publications increased too.

Ancient time Classics and contemporary works were printed in huge quantities. Present day studies on bibliography and on the history of books and publication have established that the Qing Dynasty indeed surpassed all previous Chinese dynasties in terms of the quantity and variety of publications.

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Spring Festival Picture, published by a workshop in YangLiuQing, TianJin

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Spring Festival Picture, published by a workshop in BeiJing

Another advance made during the 267 years of Qing Dynasty was in the development of printing technology. All printing techniques known then continued to be in use and new ones were devised. Special mention must be made about movable type. The proportion of publications utilising movable type rose steadily. Fonts and sizes of movable type proliferated. Be made of wood, bronze or clay, movable type attained to very high standards in quality. Woodblock color printing became ever more popular and its quality kept improving. Lunar New Year posters were a new commercial product that became popular. They gave rise to a big business, with millions of households being adorned by them, making the spread and influence of printing in society wider than any dynasty before. In this sense then, we can say application of traditional technology of printing reached a pinnacle during the Qing Dynasty.

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Dragon Tripitaka (engraved and printed by the Imperial Household in the 13th year of the YongZheng Reign) The Complete Poems of the Tang Dynasty (engraved and printed by the YangZhou Poetry Bureau.) The Book of History in Manchurian and Chinese Characters (engraved and printed in 1738 A.D., 3rd year of QianLong Reign, by the HongYuan Hall in BeiJing)
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Spring Festival Picture, published by a workshop in TaoHuaWu, SuZhou Spring Festival Picture, published by a workshop in WuQiang, HeBei Province

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