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Printing - But not as we know it!

Started by Dave Hughes, December 11, 2009, 04:06:33 PM

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Dave Hughes

I was recently pointed in the direction of this video.

It shows workers producing Buddhist texts.

They seem to be going at a fair pace! Not sure if it's religious fervour that's driving them on - or a mean piecework system!

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The interesting printing method used by the Buddhists prompted me to a little research on the process. The following is extracted from the web site at the end of the item.

Engraved texts: 2nd - 8th century AD

The emperor of China commands, in AD 175, that the six main classics of Confucianism be carved in stone. His purpose is to preserve them for posterity in what is held to be authentic version of the text. But his enterprise has an unexpected result.

Confucian scholars are eager to own these important texts. Now, instead of having them expensively written out, they can make their own copies. Simply by laying sheets of paper on the engraved slabs and rubbing all over with charcoal or graphite, they can take away a text in white letters on a black ground - a technique more familiar in recent centuries in the form of brass-rubbing.

Subsequent emperors engrave other texts, until quite an extensive white-on-black library can be acquired. It is a natural next step to carve the letters in a raised form (and in mirror writing) and then to apply ink to the surface of the letters. When this ink is transferred to paper, the letters appear in black (or in a colour) against the white of the paper - much more pleasant to the eye than white on black.

This process is printing. But it is the Buddhists, rather than the Confucians, who make the breakthrough.

Printed Buddhist texts in Korea and Japan: AD 750-768
The invention of printing is a striking achievement of Buddhists in east Asia. Korea takes the lead. The world's earliest known printed document is a sutra printed on a single sheet of paper in Korea in AD 750.

This is closely followed in Japan by a bold experiment in mass circulation (precisely the area in which printed material has the advantage over manuscript). In AD 768, in devoutly Buddhist Nara, the empress commissions a huge edition of a lucky charm or prayer. It is said that the project takes six years to complete and that the number of copies printed, for distribution to pilgrims, is a million. Many have survived.

Read more:

George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

Dan Williams

This video claims that the printers work 8 hours a day, five days a week. Based on that, I would say that these fellows are valued employees. 
Now there are apparent repetetive motion issues, and I'm not sure about their overall working environment. At least they are able to sit down while working.
Vaguely reminds me of my cousins, perched behind the uncles Miller cylinder...straightening paper as it fed into delivery..all summer day.
Neither cousin chose to follow in the unc's footsteps  :P

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