World Heritage in China

Movable-type printing of China

Updated: Jul 31, 2018 Print
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The invention of movable-type printing marks a great technological revolution in the history of printing. [Photo/Xinhua]

Movable-type printing is an ancient Chinese system and technology, developed through long-term practice and research. Its invention marked a great technological revolution in the history of printing.

Craftsmen need to cut types in relief, then select characters according to the manuscript, arrange them in a type case, and paint ink on the surface. After printing, the types were removed for reuse.

Bi Sheng (970-1051) developed the ceramic movable-type system for printing in China during the Northern Song Dynasty (1041-1048). It was not until four centuries later that German Johannes Gutenberg invented the metal movable-type system for printing.

Afterwards, agriculturalist Wang Zhen (1271-1368) created a method of making wooden movable types during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). In the middle of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), bronze movable-type printing was widely used in Nanjing, Wuxi and Suzhou.


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