Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Printing and Publishing
(1,771 words)

1. The Early History of Printing and Publishing

Before the invention of paper, written documents were mainly recorded on tortoise shells, bones, stones, metals, wooden boards, silk, and bamboo strips. The historical sources date the development of paper from raw hemp, bark fibers, and rags to 105 CE. Archaeological finds show, however, that paper produced from plant fibers already existed during the Western Han period (206 BCE to 25 CE).


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Neder, Christina, “Printing and Publishing”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 03 October 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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