Printing

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Printing is a process whereby one or more identical copies are produced from an original image. The printing of books was almost certainly a Buddhist invention.

In China in about the 7th century it was believed to be meritorious to make images of the Buddha, either statues or drawing. Artists were commissioned to draw multiple images of the Buddha on the walls and roofs of temples. Eventually it was realized that this process could be considerably speeded up if an image was carved on a block of wood, covered with ink and then pressed on the surface to be painted so as to leave an outline of the Buddha which the artist then only had to fill in with colour. It was also believed to be meritorious to make copies of Buddhist scriptures, and it was not long before the process which had been used to make images was being used to make words. The earliest known printed book is a copy of a sutta printed in 828 AD. By the 11th century, Buddhist monks in Korea had invented movable type. Printing was not invented in Europe until 1454.

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