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Printing ——one of the four great inventions in ancient China

In this blog post, you'll read: a brief talk about buyer group in cardboard display area.Printing is the forerunner of modern human civilization, creating conditions for the widespread dissemination and exchange of knowledge. Printing has spread to North Korea, Japan, Central Asia, West Asia and Europe.

Printing is one of the four great inventions of the working people in ancient China. Engraving printing was invented in the Tang Dynasty and was widely used in the middle and late Tang Dynasty. Song Renzong Bi Sheng invented movable type printing, marking the birth of movable type printing. He was the first inventor in the world, marking the birth of movable type printing about 400 years earlier than the German Johannes Gutenberg’s type printing.

Printing is the forerunner of modern human civilization, creating conditions for the widespread dissemination and exchange of knowledge. Printing has spread to North Korea, Japan, Central Asia, West Asia and Europe.


Before the invention of printing, the spread of culture mainly relied on handwritten books. Copying by hand is time-consuming, troublesome, and easy to make mistakes and omissions, which not only hinders the development of culture, but also brings undue losses to the spread of culture. Seals and stone carvings provide direct empirical enlightenment to printing, and the method of rubbing paper on stone tablets directly points out the direction for engraving printing. China’s printing has gone through two stages of development of woodblock printing and movable type printing, which has offered a great gift to the development of mankind. The characteristics of printing are convenient, flexible, time-saving, and labor-saving. It is a major breakthrough in ancient printing.

Chinese printing has a long history and spread far and wide. It is an important component of Chinese culture; it sprouted with the birth of Chinese culture and evolved with the development of Chinese culture. Counting from its source, it has gone through four historical periods: source, ancient, modern, and contemporary, with a development process of more than 5,000 years. In the early days, the Chinese people created early written symbols in order to record events, spread experience and knowledge, and sought a medium to record these characters. Due to the restriction of the production methods at that time, people can only use natural objects to record written symbols. For example, engraving and writing characters on natural materials such as rock walls, leaves, animal bones, rocks, and bark. Because the materials used to record the text are very expensive, important events can only be recorded briefly. The experience of most people can only be spread orally, which seriously affects the development of social culture.

2.Origin of the seal

The seal existed in the pre-Qin period, usually only a few words, indicating the name, official position or organization. The seals are all engraved in reverse, and there is a distinction between engraving and engraving. Before the paper appeared, official documents or letters were written on the bamboo slips. After they were written, they were tied up with a rope, and a sticky mud was placed at the ligature to seal the seal on the mud. This is called a mud seal. It was a means of keeping secret at that time. After the emergence of paper, the mud seal evolved into a paper seal, which was stamped at the seams of several official papers or the seals of official paper bags. According to records in the Northern Qi Dynasty (AD 550~577), some people made the seal used for the official paper to be very large, much like a small engraved plate.

a>Printing during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

b>Ge Hong (284~363 AD), a famous alchemist in the Jin Dynasty, mentioned in his “Baopuzi” that Taoists had already used a large wood seal of four inches square (13.5×13.5) with 120 characters. This is already a small engraving.

c>Buddhists are also inspired to make the Buddhist scriptures more vivid, and often print Buddha images on the head of the Buddhist scriptures. This kind of manual wood printing is much easier than hand-painted.

d>The rubbing technology of the stele is very inspiring to the invention of the engraving technology. The invention of stone carving has a very early history. In the early Tang Dynasty, ten stone drums were discovered in Fengxiang, Shaanxi. They were carved from the Qin State during the Spring and Autumn Period in the 8th century BC. Qin Shihuang made a tour and carved stones at important places 7 times. After the Eastern Han Dynasty, stone steles became popular. In the fourth year of the Han Ling Emperor (AD 175), Cai Yong suggested that the imperial court establish the “Book of Songs”, “Book of history”, “the Book of Changes”, “Book of Rites”, “Annals”, “Gong Yang Zhuan”, and “The Analects of Confucius” in front of the Taixue gate. The seven classic Confucian steles, totaling 209,000 characters, were carved on 46 steles, each with a height of 175 centimeters, a width of 90 centimeters, and a thickness of 20 centimeters, and a capacity of 5000 characters. It took 8 years and all were carved. Become a classic for scholars at that time. Many people rushed to copy. Later, especially during the Wei, Jin and Six Dynasties, some people rubbed the scriptures with paper for personal use or sold when they were not under strict supervision or unattended. As a result, it became widespread.

e>Rubbing is one of the important conditions for the production of printing technology. The ancients discovered that a piece of slightly moist paper was placed on the stone tablet, and the paper was tapped with a soft mallet to make the paper sink into the recess of the inscription on the surface of the tablet. After the paper dries, wrap cotton with a cloth, dip it in ink, and gently tap on the paper , There will be black and white writing on the paper exactly the same as the stone tablet. This method is simpler and more reliable than handwriting. So rubbing appeared.

f>Printing and dyeing technology also has great enlightenment for engraving printing. Printing and dyeing is to carve patterns on wood boards and print them on cloth with dyes. There are two types of printed boards in China: embossed boards and hollow boards. The two printed yarns unearthed from the Han Tomb No. 1 at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan (around 165 BC) in 1972 were printed with embossed plates. This technology may predate the Qin and Han dynasties and date back to the Warring States Period. After paper was invented, this technology could be used in printing. As long as the cloth was changed to paper and the dye was changed to ink, the printed matter became engraved prints. In the Dunhuang stone room, there are Buddha statues printed on convex and hollow boards of the Tang Dynasty. Seal, rubbing, printing and dyeing technology inspired each other and merged with each other, coupled with the experience and wisdom of the Chinese people, engraving printing technology came into being.

g>The engraving technique was invented in the Tang Dynasty (around the 7th century) and was widely used in the middle and late Tang Dynasty. Early printing activities were mainly carried out by the people, mostly used for printing Buddha statues, mantras, vows and almanacs. In the early Tang Dynasty, Xuanzang used Huifeng paper to print the statue of Samantabhadra and gave it to monks and nuns.

h>During the Northern Song Dynasty (around the 11th century), Bi Sheng invented movable type printing, but it was not widely used, but engraving was still widely used.

3.Origin of printing

The invention of brush and ink made it possible for scholars not only to read but also to write. They do not need an engraver to wait at any time like the knife and pen era, and it is more convenient to record their thoughts. Before the Spring and Autumn Period, although there were no shortage of great politicians and thinkers in Chinese history, none of them personally wrote books. This is the reason.

Qin Chao Mengtian invented the method of soaking the hair with lime water to remove the water-repellent material on the surface of the hair, which prompted the finalization of the brush making technology, and the brush really became a writing tool. So far, the ancients have found a fluent, time-saving and labor-saving writing method, so that writing is no longer a chore. People with leisure classes will write a few pens in their spare time to kill time and try to write beautifully. They even tried to laugh with each other, which created a precedent in the art of calligraphy. Li Si of the Qin Dynasty was the first great calligrapher in history, which illustrates the maturity of pen and ink technology.

The structure of Chinese characters is complex, and the characters written by each person will be different. Some are beautiful and beautiful, and some are crude and ugly, prompting people to pursue the art of calligraphy. An important way to improve calligraphy skills is to imitate good calligraphy works, but people who write well are usually calligraphers, and most of their works are usually government documents, which are difficult for ordinary people to see. In ancient times, inscriptions on stone tablets were popular, and people who could write well were asked to write the basic inscriptions and then carved out by stonemasons. This is the best model for people to practice writing. The stele is heavy and cannot be taken home and imitated.

Paper appeared in the late Western Han Dynasty, but the paper fiber was rough and poor inking performance. It was mainly used instead of cloth for wrapping and cushioning. There were occasional writing notes on wrapping paper, such as hanging springs (or Juyan). ) A paper with the name of the medicine was found at the site. The papermaking technology first borrowed from China’s mature silk reeling technology. The fibrous material was immersed in water and crushed to disperse the fibers, and the shredded fibers were taken out to cool down. The fiber is thick, the paper is thick, and the writing performance is poor. Writing materials. In the Eastern Han Dynasty and Emperor Cai Lun reformed the papermaking method and produced a new type of thin and uniform paper with fine fibers, which greatly improved the writing performance of the paper, and the main purpose of the paper was turned to writing.

The paper is thin and soft, so calligraphy practitioners come up with the method of imitation of the stamp and rubbing the inscription, and then take it home to imitate, that is, rubbing method. The invention of paper made rubbing possible, so that every calligrapher could practice a good handwriting, and also created a large number of calligraphers in the Three Kingdoms and the Jin Dynasty. The Western alphabet has a simple structure, a small number of letters, and a hard pen. It can be written very fancy, but there is no art at all. After people have written dozens of letters, they can write a lot. There is no need for rubbings to imitate the handwriting of others. Paper can write on it. There is no need for papermaking. Therefore, Westerners have no social foundation for inventing papermaking.

The imperial examination system originated in the Southern and Northern Dynasties and began in the Tang dynasty. With the rise of the imperial examination system, the requirement to spread good articles appeared in the society. Professional copywriters copied good articles in large numbers, imitating rubbing techniques, and later Combining the anti-calligraphy of the embossed seal with the seal, the engraving technique was created. It appeared in the period between the prosperous Tang and the Mid-Tang Dynasty, prevailed in the Northern Song Dynasty, and finally matured by inventing the movable type of clay by Bu Yi Bi Sheng.


+letterpress printing

The history of letterpress printing is the longest and most popular. The convex part of the image and text on the layout accepts ink, and the concave part does not accept ink. When the plate is pressed against the paper, the ink will be printed on the paper. The printing plates mainly include: movable type, lead plate, zinc plate, copper plate, photosensitive resin plate, etc. Some books, bills, envelopes, business cards, etc. still use letterpress printing; for special processing such as bronzing, silver, embossing, etc., letterpress printing is generally used.


This is the most common and widely used printing method today. The image and the non-image are on the same plane, using the principle of mutual repulsion of water and ink. The graphic part accepts ink and does not accept water, and the non-graphic part is opposite. The printing process adopts the indirect method. First, the image is printed on the blanket cylinder, the graphics and text are changed from front to back, and then the graphics and text on the blanket cylinder are transferred to the paper. This printing method can be used for picture albums, picture magazine advertisement samples, annual calendars, etc.

+ intaglio printing 

The principle of gravure printing is opposite to that of letterpress printing. The text and image are concave under the layout, and the concave part carries ink. The shade of the printing is related to the depth of the recess, the dark is thick, and the light is light. Because of the different inks of gravure printing, the printed lines have a protruding feeling. Coins, stamps, securities, etc. are all printed by gravure. Gravure printing is also suitable for printing on plastic films and silk. The cost of gravure printing is high due to the long plate-making time and complicated process.

+porous printing

It is also called screen printing. If you have seen a teacher engraving wax-printed papers in elementary school, you will better understand this printing method. Use silk cloth, metal and synthetic material silk screen, wax paper, etc. as the printing plate, hollow out the graphic parts into fine holes, and protect the non-graphic parts with printing materials. The printing plate is tightly attached to the substrate, and the scraper or ink roller is used. The ink penetrates into the substrate. Screen printing can not only be printed on flat substrates but also on curved substrates, with bright colors and constant durability. Suitable for printing on labels, bags, T-shirts, plastic products, glass, metal utensils and other objects.

+flexographic printing

Flexographic printing is also often referred to as flexographic printing, which is a commonly used printing method for packaging. According to the definition of Chinese printing technology standard term GB9851.4-90, flexographic printing is a printing method that uses a flexographic plate and transfers ink through an anilox roller. Flexographic printing is a printing plate that projects a mirror image of the desired image on polyester or polyester material—just like a potato print for children playing. The amount of ink transferred to the printing plate (or printing plate cylinder) is controlled by the anilox roller. The printing surface is in contact with the printing material during the rotation process, thereby transferring graphics and text.

5.Block printing

The process of engraving printing is roughly like this: After writing the handwriting of the manuscript, paste the side with the words on the board, and then you can engrave. The engraver uses different forms of cutters to engrave the inverted ink on the wood block into a convex At the same time, remove the remaining blank parts of the wood block to make it sunken. The characters engraved on the board surface are about 1 to 2 millimeters from the printed surface. Rinse the carved board with hot water, wash away the sawdust, etc., and the stereotype process is complete. When printing, use a cylindrical flat-bottomed brush to dip the ink and evenly brush it on the board surface, and then carefully cover the paper on the board surface, gently brush the paper with a brush, the paper will print the positive image of the text or picture. Lift the paper from the printing plate, dry it in the shade, and the printing process is complete. A printer can print 1500 to 2000 sheets a day, and a printing plate can print 10,000 times.

The rigid process is a bit like the process of engraving a seal, except that there are more characters. The process of stamping is opposite to that of a stamp. The seal is printed on the top and the paper is on the bottom. The process of engraving and printing is a bit like rubbing, but the characters on the engraving plate are inverted characters in positive, while the characters on the stele are normal characters in inscription. In addition, rubbing ink is applied to the paper, and engraving ink is applied to the plate. It can be seen that woodblock printing not only inherits the technologies of seal, rubbing, printing and dyeing, but also has innovative technologies.

Engraving printing was invented in the Tang Dynasty and has been widely used in the middle and late Tang Dynasty. In 1900, a beautifully printed “Diamond Sutra” was found in Dunhuang Thousand Buddha Caves with the words “April 15, Xiantong 9th year (AD 868)” at the end. This is the earliest in the world today with a clear date. Recorded printed matter. Engraved prints may have begun to be popular only among the people, and there was a period when they coexisted with manuscripts.

In 824, Yuan Zhen wrote a preface to Bai Juyi’s collection of poems, saying: “In the past twenty years, there have been books on the walls of the forbidden provinces, temples, and post offices, and the mouths of the princes, concubines, cow boys, and horses are all. Le, the street is sold in the market, or those who hold Jiaojiu Ming, are everywhere.” Mole immediately, holding Jiaojiu Ming is holding the white poem printed copy to exchange tea for wine. It can be seen that by the beginning of the ninth century, the application of printing has expanded from Buddhist mantras to poetry that people like to read. Around 835, the local folks in Sichuan and northern Jiangsu once “printed calendar days with plates” and sold them on the market. At that time, some people said that the calendars printed by the people “have been all over the world.” It is known that they were not only printed in Sichuan and Jiangsu. In 883, Chengdu Bookstores could see some books on “Yin and Yang Miscellaneous Jiu Gong and Wu Wei Zhi”, and “Calligraphy Elementary School”, “All rates are engraving printing paper”… the first two after the invention of printing Within a hundred years, it has become an important medium for popularizing culture among the people.

Found in the tomb of the Tang Dynasty in Chengdu in 1944, it is a block print of the late Tang Dynasty.

In the Song Dynasty, engraving printing has developed to its heyday, with many kinds of prints. Pear wood and jujube wood are the better materials for engraving. Therefore, there is irony with the idiom “disaster and pear and jujube” for books that are not worthless, meaning that the pear and jujube trees are destroyed in vain. It can be seen that books are all the rage.

Engraving printing started with only monochrome printing. In the fifth generation, some people used pens to add different colors to the outline of the ink printing of the illustrations to increase the visual effect. Tianjin Yangliuqing prints are still produced in this way. Put several different color materials on different parts of a board at the same time, and print them on the paper at a time to print out color sheets. This method is called “single-plate multi-color printing”. In this way, the Song Dynasty printed “Huizi” (the banknote issued at that time).

Single-plate multi-color printing pigments are easy to mix and penetrate, and the color blocks are clearly defined, which makes them dull. In the actual exploration, people found the method of dividing the coloring and printing in stages, which is to use several printing plates of the same size to load different color materials, and then print them on the same paper. This method is called It is also known as “multi-version multi-color printing” and “register printing”. The invention of “multi-version multi-color printing” was not later than the Yuan Dynasty. At that time, the “Diamond Sutra Note” engraved by Zhongxing Road (now Jiangling County, Hubei) was overprinted with two colors of vermilion ink. This is the earliest existing overprint version. . Multi-page multi-color printing achieved greater development in the Ming Dynasty. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Nanjing and Beijing were the engraving centers. The Jingchang was established in the Ming Dynasty, the northern Tibet of Yongle, and the orthodox Taoist temple were all made by Jingchang. The Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty and the Yongzheng Longzang are both rigid in Beijing. In the early Ming Dynasty, Nanzang and many official engraved books were stereotyped in Nanjing. After Jiajing, by the middle of the 16th century, Nanjing became the center of color overprinting.

6.Movable-type printing

The movable type plate making avoids the shortcomings of the engraving, as long as enough single movable type is prepared in advance, the plate can be made at any time, which greatly speeds up the plate making time. After printing, the movable type can be disassembled, and the movable type can be reused, and the movable type occupies less space than the engraving, so it is easy to store and keep. In this way, the superiority of movable type is demonstrated.

From 1041 to 1048 AD, Bi Sheng, who was born as a commoner, used clay to make characters. One character was a seal, which was hardened with fire to make it ceramic. When typesetting, prepare a piece of iron plate, relax the mixture of incense, wax, paper ash, etc. on the iron plate. There is an iron frame around the iron plate, and the iron frame is filled with the characters to be printed. Then bake it with fire to melt the mixture and integrate it with the movable type block. While it is hot, use a flat plate to press it on the movable type to make the surface flat. Can be printed. With this method, printing two or three copies is not very efficient. If you print more, dozens or even thousands of copies, the efficiency will be very high. In order to improve efficiency, two iron plates are commonly used, one for printing and the other for typesetting. After printing one piece, the other piece is lined up. It is very efficient to use alternately. Commonly used words such as “之”, “也” and other words, each word is made into more than 20 words, in case there is a repetition in a version. Unprepared rare characters were carved out temporarily and burned immediately with vegetation and fire. The characters removed from the printing plate are put into the small wooden grid of the same character, and labels classified by rhyme are affixed on the outside for retrieval. At first, Bi Sheng used wood as movable type. The experiment found that the wood grains are not uniform, and it is easy to swell and deform when exposed to water, and it is not easy to remove after being solidified with adhesive, so he switched to cement.

Bi Sheng invented movable type printing to improve the efficiency of printing. However, his invention was not valued by the rulers and society at the time. After his death, movable type printing was still not promoted. The glue type he created was not preserved either. But the movable type printing technology he invented has been passed down.

In 1965, the publication “Buddha Sutra Viewing Immeasurable Life Sutra” discovered in the White Elephant Pagoda in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, was identified as a movable type from Yuanfu to Chongning (1100~1103) in the Northern Song Dynasty. This is the earliest historical testimony of Bi Sheng’s movable type printing technology.

Song Zhou Bida (1129~1204) was given the title of Lord Jiguo. In his old age, he learned Bi Sheng’s methods from Shen Kuo and printed his own works. He also made a small change, changing the iron plate to a copper plate. Copper plate has better heat transfer than iron plate and is easy to melt adhesive, but copper plate is more expensive than iron plate.

Yao Shu (1201~1278) in the Yuan Dynasty advocated movable type printing. He taught his children Yang Gu to use movable type to print books, which became Zhu Xi’s “Elementary School” and “Jin Si Lu”, and Lu Zuqian’s “Dong Lai Scripture History” Wait for the book. However, Yang Gu’s mud-making movable type was based on the technology improved by the Song people after Bi Sheng, not the original technology of Bi Sheng.

In the 6th year of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty, Zhai Shiqi served as the official of Raozhou, collecting magnetic households, and making a green magnet “Book of Changes”. According to expert analysis, the so-called Celadon (movable type) may be a type of ceramic type fired from the clay used to make celadon.

In the 19th century, Zhai Jinsheng of Jing County, Anhui Province, had the idea of printing a book with mud type after reading the Bi Sheng mud type technique described in Shen Kuo’s Mengxi Bi Tan. He spent 30 years and made more than 100,000 movable types of mud. In 1844, it was printed as “First Edition of Clay Plate Trial Printing”. Since then, he has printed many more books. In the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of movable mud type characters made by Zhai Jinsheng were also discovered in Jing County in the 1960s and 1970s. There are five types of these movable type. With his own practice, he proved that Bi Sheng’s invention is feasible, breaking some people’s doubts about the feasibility of mud type.

Zhai’s clay movable type found in Huizhou, Anhui in 1962.

There were many wood type books in the Ming Dynasty, using traditional Song and Yuan techniques. The “Tang Poetry Garden” in the 14th year of the Wanli Reign of Ming Dynasty (1586), “The Yulu of the World Temple”, and “Bishui Qunying Waiting for Questions” in Jiajingjian (approximately 1515~1530), etc. are all printed wood type .

In the Qing Dynasty, wood type technology gained unprecedented development due to the support of the government. Wood movable type books were popular in the Kangxi period, and large-scale printing of books with wood type began with the publication of the “Yingwu Palace Collection Collection” in the Qianlong period. After printing the book, a total of 253500 large and small jujube wood type were carved. 134 types of “Wuying Palace Juzhen Edition Series” were printed in 2389 volumes. This is the largest printing of wood type in Chinese history.

The use of metal materials to make movable type is also a development direction of movable type printing. Before Wang Zhen, people had used tin as movable type. But tin is not easy to be printed with ink, and it is difficult to promote. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the movable type of bronze was popular in Wuxi, Suzhou and Nanjing in Jiangsu Province. Bronze movable type printing entered a new climax in the Qing Dynasty. The largest project is to count the printing of 10,000 volumes of “Ancient and Modern Book Collection”.



From the first year to the eighth year of Renzong Qingli in the Northern Song Dynasty, that is, from 1041 to 1048 AD, an ordinary laborer named Bi Sheng invented movable type printing.

Shen Kuo was a dozen years younger than Bi Sheng. He was a contemporaneous person, and the movable type made by Bi Sheng was later owned by Shen Kuo’s nephew. Therefore, the record of Bi Sheng’s invention of movable type printing in Shen Kuo’s “Mengxi Bi Tan” is informative credible.

However, some Europeans once attributed the invention of movable type printing to Gutenberg. Gutenberg is from West Germany. He invented movable type printing around 1440-1448 AD, which was 400 years later than Bi Sheng’s invention of movable type printing.

Movable type printing is one of the greatest inventions in human history, and China’s major contribution to world culture.

Like any invention, Bi Sheng’s invention of movable type printing has its social needs, material basis and technical conditions. As Chinese society progressed to the Northern Song Dynasty, due to economic development, commercial prosperity and cultural prosperity, it was necessary to spread information quickly and in large quantities. Movable type printing was produced to solve the problems raised by the needs of society. Printing must use paper and ink. As early as the Han Dynasty, China invented two kinds of inks: paper, lampblack and pine smoke. The invention of paper and ink laid the material foundation for the birth of movable type printing. Since the Warring States, Qin and Han Dynasties, the methods of copying characters and pictures such as seals and rubbings have provided technical conditions for the invention of movable type printing.

As the name implies, the word “print” in printing itself has two meanings: seal and printing; the word “brush” is the name of the process of rubbing the tablet and applying ink. The naming of printing has revealed its blood relationship with seals and rubbings. Seals and rubbings are two sources of movable type printing.

The area of the seal was originally small and could only accommodate a few words such as name or official title. During the Eastern Jin Dynasty, Taoism emerged. The Taoist school pays attention to Fulu. They engraved long-written spells on the peach and jujube wood, thereby expanding the area of the seal. According to the book Baopuzi written by Ge Hong of the Jin Dynasty, Taoists had a photocopy with 120 characters inscribed. It can be seen that it was already possible to copy a short article by stamping. This is actually the pioneer of block printing.

Rubbing is another source of printing. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty “deposed hundreds of schools and respected Confucianism.” But at that time, the Confucian classics were all dictated by scribes and recorded by students. Therefore, it is inevitable that there will be differences in teaching the same classics by different sutra teachers. In the fourth year of Emperor Xiping of the Han Dynasty (AD 175), the government standing stone engraved all the important Confucian classics on it as the standard version of the correction script. In order to avoid the labor of copying scriptures from stone inscriptions, around the 4th century AD, people invented the method of rubbing monuments. The method of rubbing the monument is very simple. Soak a piece of tough tissue paper and place it on the stone tablet, then cover it with a piece of absorbent thick paper, tap it with a brush until the paper sinks into the engraving cavity on the tablet, then remove the thick paper outside , Use cotton or silk pat, dipped in ink, and gently and evenly brush the tissue on the tissue. When the tissue is dry, it will be peeled off. It is a rubbing of white characters and black ground. This method of rubbing the stele is the same as the engraving printing. The difference is that the inscription on the stele is concave inscribed, while the embossed text is convex. The writing on the stele is in positive writing. Tuobei provides a copy technology to obtain orthographic characters from inscribed characters. Later, people engraved the writing on the stone tablet on the wooden board, and then spread it. Du Fu, a great poet of the Tang Dynasty, once said in his poem: “The stele of Yishan burns wildly, and the carved fat of Zaomu is distorted.” This is almost the same as engraving.

In the Tang Dynasty, the two methods of seal and rubbing gradually developed and merged, and engraving and printing appeared. On December 10th of the fourth year of Changqing of Tang Muzong, that is, January 2, 825 AD, the poet Yuan Zhen wrote a preface to Bai Juyi’s “Changqing Collection”. It was said that people from Yangzhou and Yuezhou at that time brought Bai Juyi and himself The poem “Mule” is sold on the street or used to exchange tea and wine. “Mule” is a publication. This is the earliest record of engraving and printing in the existing literature. In 836 AD, according to the report of Dongchuan Jiedu Envoy Feng Su, Tang Wenzong ordered the prohibition of private calendar editions. Feng Su said in his report: “Every year before the Central Secretary’s invitation to issue a new calendar, privately printed calendars have been flying all over the world.” It can be seen that there were many people engaged in the engraving and printing industry at that time. In the collection of books found in Qianfodong, Dunhuang County, Gansu Province in 1900, there is a volume of “Diamond Sutra” printed with engraved plates. Xiantong nine years, that is, 868 AD. This is the earliest printed matter with an exact date found in the world today. The book is in the form of a scroll, measuring about 1 foot and 6 feet long and made up of 7 printed sheets glued together. At the front is a painting, which depicts the scene of Shakyamuni speaking to the Lonely Garden in Zhishu. The rest is the full text of the Diamond Sutra. The pictures and texts of this paper are very exquisite, the carving technique is exquisite, simple and solemn, which shows that the printing technology of the time has reached a quite proficient level.

b.Disadvantages of block printing

With the rapid increase in the variety and quantity of printing, each type of book printed has to be engraved once, which consumes considerable manpower and material resources. Therefore, it is proposed to seek a simpler and more economical printing technology. At the latest in the late Tang Dynasty, there are already thousands of Buddha statues hand scrolls printed repeatedly with a single Buddha statue. In the past, archaeological teams from Britain, France, Germany, Japan and other countries have discovered a large number of these thousand Buddha statues in various places in Xinjiang, China. There is a hand scroll of this kind in the collection of the British Museum. It is 17 feet long and 5.18 meters long, with 468 Buddha images printed on it. In addition, in the engraving process, it is inevitable to engrave wrong characters. It would be a pity and a waste to scrap a board if one engraved a wrong character. The clever craftsmen came up with a remedy, which is to use a chisel to dig out the typo, and then use a piece of wood of the same size to carve and fill it in. All these have provided experience and reference for the invention of movable type printing. It can be seen that although movable type printing is a personal invention and creation of Bi Sheng, it does contain the wisdom of many laborers in previous dynasties.

Since the invention of printing paper, with the development of economy and culture, more people have read books, and the demand for books has also greatly increased.

In the early years of the Jin Dynasty, the government had 29,945 volumes of books. During the Southern and Northern Dynasties, Emperor Liang Yuan had more than 70,000 volumes of books in Jiangling, and the collection of 370,000 volumes in the Jiaze Hall of the Sui Dynasty. This is the highest collection record of the National Library in ancient China. In addition to official collections, private collections are also increasing. For example, Guo Tai of the Jin Dynasty had five thousand volumes of books; when Zhang Hua moved, he only used thirty vehicles to carry books. Before the invention of printing, only the government and wealthy people like Guo Tai and Zhang Hua could have so many books. It was not easy for ordinary people to get one or two books, because the books at that time were manuscripts. It takes so much manpower to copy so many manuscripts! If this situation does not change, how can we meet the needs of society? There is often such a situation in history: a scientific invention, as long as the society urgently needs it, and at the same time there are material conditions to produce it, then it will appear very secretly. This is how the emergence of woodblock printing. Before the advent of woodblock printing, seals and rubbings were widely used in society. There are two types of seals: positive and negative. The engraved characters are protruding from the protruding text, and the characters carved from the negative are recessed. “If you use an embossed seal, it will be printed with black on a white background, which is very eye-catching. However, the seal is generally small and the number of characters printed is limited after all. The engraving of the stele is usually in Yin text, and the black background and white characters are unobtrusive. Moreover, the process of rubbing the stele is more complicated, and it is not convenient to print books. However, rubbing has a big advantage, that is, the area of ​​the stone stele is relatively large, and many characters can be rubbed at a time. Combine the characteristics of the stele and the seal? Of course, the situation is different. Chinese working people invented the engraving printing technique inspired by the two methods of rubbing the stele and the seal. The method of engraving printing is like this: sawing wood Into a block of wooden boards, write the words to be printed on thin paper, and paste them on the boards. Then, according to the strokes of each word, use a knife to engrave it into embossed text, so that the strokes of each word stand out on the board. On. After the wood board is carved, you can print the book. When printing the book, first dip a brush in ink and brush it on the carved board. Then, use self-paper to cover the board and take another A clean brush is gently applied to the back of the paper, and the paper is removed, and a page of the book is printed. After the page is printed and bound into a book, the book is successful. This printing method, It is carved on a wooden board and then printed, so everyone calls it “engraving.”

Chinese engraving printing was invented in the Tang Dynasty and was widely used in the middle and late Tang Dynasty.

According to the record of Shao Jingbang’s “Hongjianlu” in the Ming Dynasty: Emperor Taizong’s empress Changsun collected stories about typical women in feudal society. Wrote a book called “Femail Rules”. After the tenth year of Zhenguan, the native eldest Queen Sun died, someone in the palace sent this book to Emperor Taizong of Tang. After Tang Taizong saw it, he ordered it to be printed with block printing. The tenth year of Zhenguan is 636 AD. “Femail Rules” may be printed this year, or it may be later. This is the earliest block copy mentioned in Chinese literature. Analyze from this information. Maybe the folks had already started printing books with engraving printing, so Tang Taizong thought of printing “Femail Rules”. The age of the invention of block printing must be earlier than the age of the publication of “Femail Rules”. By the ninth century, the use of woodblock printing to print books was quite common in China.

Bai Juyi, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, compiled his own poems into a collection of poems——”Bai’s Changqing Collection”, December 10, Changqing 4th year (January 2, 825 AD), Bai Juyi’s friend Yuan Zhen Wrote a preface to “Bai’s Changqing Collection”, in the preface it said: At that time, Bai Juyi’s poems were sold on the street, everywhere like this. In the past, people called stone carvings “Die”, but in the Tang Dynasty, they also called carving plates “Die”. The word “Die” here means block printing. There is also a record in the “Old Tang Book” that in December of the 9th year of the Yamato period (A.D. 835), Tang Wenzong ordered all localities not to engrave and print almanacs privately. so, what happened? According to other ancient books, the situation is like this: the people of Jiannan, Liangchuan and Huainan Road at that time. All calendars were printed with engraving and sold on the street. Every year, Administration of Heavenly Observatory, who manages calendars, hasn’t yet asked to issue new calendars, but the new calendars printed by the people are everywhere. The promulgation of the calendar is the prerogative of the feudal emperor. In order to maintain the prestige of the imperial court, Dongchuan garrison commander Feng Su ban private publishing of calendars. The almanac is related to agricultural production, and farmers need it very much. How can a command be forbidden? Although Tang Wenzong gave this order, folk-engraved calendars are still popular everywhere. Even in the same area, there is more than one private printing calendar. During the Huang Chao uprising, Tang Xizong fled to Sichuan in a panic. The emperor also ran away, and of course no one would manage the banned calendar. Therefore, the people of Jiangdong region compiled and printed calendars themselves and sold them. In the first year of Tang Xizong Zhonghe (A.D. 1981), there were two calendars printed by two people, and they had a dispute between the moon and the moon. When a local official found out, he said, “Everyone is a colleague doing business. What does it matter if there is a difference of one and a half days?” How can the almanac be one day? The magistrate’s statement really made people laugh. This incident tells us that in Jiangdong alone, there are at least two printed calendars. Liu Pi, who fled to Sichuan with Tang Xizong at that time, also said in the preface of his “Family Instructions” that he had seen many books on Yin and Yang, miscellaneous notes, and Zhanmeng in Chengdu bookstores. Most of these books are engraved printing. It can be seen that the printing industry in Chengdu was relatively developed at that time, not only printing calendars, but also various other books. Among the books engraved in the Tang Dynasty, there is only one “Diamond Sutra” engraved in Xiantong nine years ago. The ninth year of Xiantong was 868 AD, and it has been more than a thousand years since we left.

This book is the earliest engraved and printed book in the world. The picture is also carved on a whole page, perhaps the earliest engraving in the world.

In the Five Dynasties, there was a feudal bureaucrat named Feng Dao. He saw all kinds of printed books sold by people in Jiangsu, Sichuan and other places. There was no Confucian classics. He suggested to the emperor to engrave and print Confucian classics in the third year of Changxing in the later Tang Dynasty.

At that time, a total of nine scriptures were printed, and they went through four dynasties. It took three years and 22 years to complete all of them. Because of the greater impact of this time, some people thought that printing was invented by Feng Dao in the Five Dynasties. Of course, this was wrong.

By the Song Dynasty, the printing industry became more developed, and books were carved everywhere in the country. In the early years of the Northern Song Dynasty, Chengdu printed the Tripitaka with 130,000 yuan; the central education institution of the Northern Song Dynasty Government, Guozijian, had more than 100,000 books on the history of printing. From these two figures, we can see the scale of the printing industry at that time. There are more than 700 books printed on carved boards in the Song Dynasty, and the fonts are neat and simple, beautiful and generous, and they have been examined by the Chinese people since then. In Song Dynasty engraving printing, wood engraving was generally used, but some people engraved with copper plate. The Shanghai Museum has collected the copperplates used in the printed advertisements of the “Jinan Liujia Kungfu Needle Shop” in the Northern Song Dynasty. Speaking of printing books, engraving is indeed a great creation. A kind of book can be printed on a large number of parts with only one wood carving, which is many times faster than handwriting. However, with this method, to print a book, you have to carve a board, and the labor is still a lot. It is impossible to print books quickly and in large quantities. Some books have a lot of words and often take many years to carve. The book has been printed once and will not be reprinted. After that, the well-carved wooden boards are completely useless. Is there any way to improve it?

In the middle of the eleventh century (in the reign of Emperor Renzong of the Song Dynasty), a Chinese inventor named Bi Sheng finally invented a more advanced printing method-movable type printing, which greatly improved China’s printing technology. Bi Sheng used clay to make square rectangular cylinders, engraved with single characters on one side, and then burned hard with fire. These are the movable type. When printing a book, prepare an iron plate. Put rosin and wax on the iron plate. There is an iron frame around the iron plate. The iron frame is densely packed with movable type. For the first plate, use fire to bake under the iron plate to melt the rosin and wax. In addition, use a flat plate to press on the arranged type to flatten the words, and a movable type plate is arranged. It is the same as engraving, as long as ink is applied to the characters, it can be printed. In order to improve efficiency, he prepared two iron plates and organized two people to work at the same time. One plate was printed and the other was typeset; when the first plate was printed, the second plate was ready. The two iron plates are used alternately and printed quickly. Bi Sheng engraved a few of each single character; more than 20 commonly used characters were engraved when they encountered unprepared unprepared new characters, and they were temporarily carved and burned with fire, which is very convenient. After printing, put the iron plate on the fire to heat it to melt the rosin and wax, remove the movable type, and use it next time. This is the earliest invention of movable type printing. This type of cement type is called mud type. The second method of printing invented by Bi Sheng is very primitive compared to today, but the three main steps of type printing, namely, the production of movable type, typesetting and printing, are already available. Therefore, Bi Sheng’s contribution to printing is very remarkable. Shen Kuo, a famous scientist in the Northern Song Dynasty, specifically recorded the movable type printing technique invented by Bi Sheng in his “Mengxi Essays”.


After Bi Sheng invented movable type printing, the Korean people began to use mud movable type and other methods to print books, and later used wood movable type to print books. In the 13th century, they first invented the printing of books with copper movable type. China used copper movable type to print books later than North Korea. The North Korean people also created lead type and iron type.

However, the person who really used mimeograph technology to print documents was the Hungarian Geste Tina, who lived in England. Around 1881, he used waxed fiber paper as a stencil, and engraved the material to be printed on it with a stylus, where micropores appeared in the fibers, and then brushed the ink on the plate and pressed it with a roller. , To make the ink penetrate the wax plate and adhere to the underlying paper.

Inventor Edison also studied stencil printing in the early 20th century. He matched a stylus with a motor and controlled the motor to make the stylus mark on the paper to make a mimeograph. Although this method was not widely recognized at the time and was not put into practical use, its principle has inspired future generations.

In 1888, Gestetainer replaced the stylus with a typewriter. He removed the ribbon from the typewriter and printed the words directly on wax paper, leaving traces on the wax paper. The wax paper was removed, laid on the paper, and imprinted with ink, which was successful.

More than 10 years later, the Austrian Krabo invented the rotary mimeograph, which greatly increased the speed of mimeograph.

Gravure printing-Intaglio printing was produced about the mid-15th century. Its principle is to make the graphics and text of the printing plate lower than the blank part. The layout structure is similar to ancient Chinese rubbings, except that the ink spots are just opposite to rubbings. Because the ink marks on the surface of the finished product printed by this printing method are slightly raised, which is easy to distinguish and difficult to imitate, it is mostly used to print banknotes, stamps and other valuable securities.

The printing plate of gravure printing can be divided into engraving gravure, etching gravure and photo gravure.

The engraving copper gravure printing was invented by the Italian Finacurai. In 1477, someone used this method to print a map. By the beginning of the 19th century, Europe began to use this method to copy famous paintings and print securities, which enabled the gravure printing to gradually develop a unique printing method.

Modern offset printing and photogravure printing: the line drawing of the offset plate is lipophilic and can absorb ink; the non-line drawing part where the wet cylinder supplies water is not attached to the ink. The ink attached to the plate is used to print on the roll of rubber cloth and transfer it to the paper. This is offset printing. On the copper of photogravure printing, there are cavities produced by corrosion to make lines, and the volume of the cavities determines the density of the lines. First coat the roller with ink, and then scrape it with a squeegee, leaving only the ink in the cavity. When it is pressed, the ink in the cavity is printed on the paper.

Letterpress printing-Letterpress printing means that the printed graphic part is higher than the blank part. When printing, the graphic part is coated with ink, then covered with paper and pressurized, and the ink is transferred from the printing plate to the paper surface.

7.Concealed Print

Formal invisible documents have not been discovered internationally, but special invisible documents have been discovered. The United States, the former Soviet Union and other countries have used this invisible printing technology on important documents and tickets. Invisible characters can be printed with special inks, and the characters cannot be seen with the naked eye, and must be specially displayed when reading. There are also reports on this aspect abroad, which call it cryptic, shadowless printing, or literally steganography. A small amount of text can be written with a pen with special chemicals. If the number of characters is large, the printing method is adopted. Foreign countries have reported that invisible fax paper and invisible printing (documents) can be made into different technical levels. From simple and easy to complicated. Photocopying and general photography have nothing to do with it, and can well meet the requirements of “two defenses”.


China is the place where printing technology was invented. Printing technology in many countries was introduced from China or developed due to China’s influence. Japan was the first country to develop printing technology after China. In the 8th century, Japan was able to print Buddhist scriptures with engraving. The engraving and printing technology of North Korea was also introduced from China. Goryeo Mu Zongshi (998~1009) began printing scriptures. Chinese engraving and printing technology passed to Persia via Central Asia, and from Persia to Egypt in the 14th century. Persia actually became a transit point for the transfer of Chinese printing technology to the west. At the end of the 14th century, cards, icons and Latin textbooks carved with woodblocks appeared in Europe. China’s wood type technology was introduced to Korea and Japan in the 14th century. The Korean people created the bronze type based on the wood type.

China’s movable type printing technology was introduced to Europe from Xinjiang via Persia and Egypt. Around 1450, Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany, was influenced by the printing of Chinese movable type, using alloys to make movable type for pinyin characters, which was used to print books. Based on the machine design he improved from the wine press, Gutenberg developed the use of raised movable type, using oil-based ink from the beginning.

The spread of printing technology to Europe accelerated the process of European social development and provided conditions for the emergence of the Renaissance. Marx referred to the invention of printing, gunpowder, and compass as “a necessary prerequisite for the development of the bourgeoisie.” The printing technology invented by the Chinese provides the necessary prerequisites for the establishment of modern society.

9.Lead type and printing press

The movable type printing technology invented in China has been further developed and improved abroad and has become the mainstream of modern printing technology. For the ancient Chinese movable type printing, the German Gutenberg has made outstanding improvements and major developments. The lead alloy movable type printing he created has been widely used in various countries around the world, and it is still one of the contemporary printing methods.

Gutenberg’s creation of movable type printing was about 1440~1448 AD. Although it was 400 years later than Bi Sheng’s invention of movable type printing, Gutenberg’s improvements in movable type materials, the application of fatty inks, and The manufacturing of printing presses has achieved great success, which laid the foundation for modern printing. Scholars from various countries have recognized that the founder of modern printing is Gutenberg in Germany.


The materials used by Gutenberg’s movable type are lead, tin, and antimony alloys, which are easy to form, and the movable type produced has good printing performance. The proportion of ingredients like this will not change much even after 500 years. In the process of casting, Gutenberg uses casting boxes and molds to make it easy to control the specifications of the type and to facilitate mass production. Gutenberg also created fatty inks, which greatly improved the printing quality, and fatty inks have been used until now. The printing machine invented by Gutenberg, although simple in structure, improved the printing operation, and was the basis for later printing machines. All of the above are not available in Bi Sheng’s movable type printing, which is also the technical reason why Bi Sheng’s movable type printing has not been widely spread. Gutenberg’s creation has made printing a big leap forward.

The lead type printing technique created by Gutenberg first spread from Germany to Italy, then to France, and by the time it reached England in 1477, it had spread throughout Europe. It spread to Asian countries a century later, Japan in 1589, and China the following year. Gutenberg’s method of casting, typesetting, and printing, as well as the spiral hand-printing machine he created, have been used in countries all over the world for more than 400 years. During this period, the scale of the printing industry was not large, and printing houses were mostly handicrafts.

In 1845, Germany produced the first fast printing press, and only then began the mechanized process of printing technology.

In 1860, the United States produced the first batch of rotary presses. Later, Germany produced two-color fast printing presses and rotary presses for printing newspapers. By 1900, 6-color rotary presses were produced. Since 1845, after about a century, all industrialized countries have successively completed the mechanization of the printing industry.

Since the 1950s, printing technology has continuously adopted the achievements of electronic technology, laser technology, information science and polymer chemistry and other emerging science and technology, and has entered a modern development stage. In the 1970s, the popularization of photosensitive resin relief plates and PS plates enabled printing to enter the path of multi-color high-speed development. In the 1980s, the application of electronic color separation scanners and full-page imposition systems made the reproduction of color images digitized and standardized. The continuous improvement of Chinese character information processing and laser phototypesetting made a fundamental change in text typesetting technology. . In the 1990s, the introduction of the color desktop publishing system indicated that computers had fully entered the printing field. In short, with the rapid development of modern science and technology, printing technology is also rapidly changing its appearance.

10.Profound Significance

The mass production of printed copies increases the chances of book retention and reduces the possibility of extinction of handwritten copies due to limited collection. Due to the widespread dissemination of printed copies and the increase in the number of readers, the church’s monopoly on scholarship in the past was challenged by the secular. The priority of religious works is gradually being replaced by the works of humanist scholars. Readers are aware of the historical differences and contradictions in ancient books, which weakens the confidence in traditional sayings and establishes the development of new knowledge basis.

Printing unifies the editions, which is obviously different from the inevitable corruption of manuscripts. Typography itself cannot guarantee the correctness of the text, but the proofreading before printing and the errata after printing make the printed copy more perfect. The pre-editing by printers has made the form of the book more and more uniform, rather than just what the former copyists did. All of these enable readers to develop a systematic way of thinking and promote the formation of various organizational structures of different disciplines.

The successors of printing made the European religious reformation widely spread. Martin Luther once called printing “God’s supreme gift to make the gospel more preachable.” Before Martin Luther made his protest in 1517, people had already printed Bibles in some national languages, making the conditions for the religious reform more mature. The truth of the gospel is no longer exclusive to a few people, but can be learned and understood by ordinary people. At the same time, religious beliefs vary from country to country, and the Roman Church can no longer maintain a uniform international form. The original motivation of the Protestant movement was to correct the shortcomings of the church, especially the sale of indulgences. Since printing was applied to a large number of printed indulgences, the sale of indulgences has become a means of profit. At the same time, the Protestants also used printed pamphlets, leaflets, and notices to widely disseminate their ideas and opinions. Without printing, the Protestant’s opinions may be limited to certain areas, rather than becoming an international one. The important movement will forever end the clergy’s monopoly on academics, overcome ignorance and superstition, and promote the early departure of Western European society from the “dark age”.

Before the advent of printing, although there was national literature, printing had a profound influence on the development of national literature. The spoken language of the various ethnic groups in Western Europe had developed into written words before the 16th century, and the century gradually evolved into a modern form. At the same time, some medieval written words have disappeared in the process. Latin, which once became an international language, is gradually declining and finally becomes a dead language. The emerging nation-states strongly support the unification of national languages. At the same time, authors are looking for the best way to express their ideas; publishers also encourage them to use national languages to expand the reader market. As it becomes easier to publish books in national languages, printing makes the vocabulary, grammar, structure, spelling and punctuation of various language publications increasingly unified. After the novel was published and circulated widely, the status of popular language was consolidated, and these universal languages promoted the development of literature and culture of various nations, and finally led to the establishment of a clear national consciousness and the emergence of nationalism.

Printing promotes the popularization of education and the promotion of knowledge, and the cheap price of books allows more people to obtain knowledge, thus affecting their outlook on life and the world. Popularization of books will increase people’s literacy rate, which in turn will increase the demand for books. In addition, handicraftsmen discovered from the early printed manuals and advertisements that the printing of this type of printed matter can bring both fame and fortune. This improves their reading and writing skills. Examples show that printing has helped some people from low births to improve their social status. For example, in the early church reforms in Germany, there were priests and priests who came from shoemakers and blacksmith families. This fully shows that printing can provide people with low status with opportunities to improve their social conditions.

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