Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper. Printing is a process for reproducing text and image typically with ink on Paper using a printing press China ( Wade-Giles ( Mandarin) Chung¹kuo² is a cultural region, an ancient Civilization, and depending on perspective a National A textile is a flexible material comprised of a network of natural or artificial Fibres often referred to as thread or Yarn. Paper is thin material mainly used for writing upon printing upon or packaging As a method of printing on cloth, the earliest surviving examples from China date to before 220, and from Egypt to the 4th century. Woodblock printing on textiles is the process of printing Patterns on Textiles usually of Linen, Cotton or Silk, by means China ( Wade-Giles ( Mandarin) Chung¹kuo² is a cultural region, an ancient Civilization, and depending on perspective a National This article is about the country of Egypt For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Egypt topics.  Ukiyo-e is the best known type of Japanese woodblock art print. "pictures of the floating world" is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints (or Woodcuts) and Paintings produced between the 17th For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Japan topics. Most European uses of the technique on paper are covered by the art term woodcut, except for the block-books produced mainly in the fifteenth century. For the origins of the technique and non-artistic use see Woodblock printing; for the related technique invented in the 18th century see Wood engraving For the use of the technique in art see Woodcut on the technique and Old master print for the history in Europe and Woodblock printing in Japan.
The wood block is prepared as a relief matrix, which means the areas to show 'white' are cut away with a knife or chisel, leaving the characters or image to show in 'black' at the original surface level. A relief print is an image created by a Printmaking process such as Woodcut, where the areas of the matrix (plate or block that are to show printed black (typically The block was cut along the grain of the wood. It is only necessary to ink the block and bring it into firm and even contact with the paper or cloth to achieve an acceptable print. The content would of course print "in reverse" or mirror-image, a further complication when text was involved. The art of carving the woodcut is technically known as xylography, though the term is rarely used in English. For the origins of the technique and non-artistic use see Woodblock printing; for the related technique invented in the 18th century see Wood engraving
For colour printing, multiple blocks are used, each for one colour, although overprinting two colours may produce further colours on the print. Multiple colours can be printed by keying the paper to a frame around the woodblocks.
There are three methods of printing to consider:
In addition, jia xie is a method for dyeing textiles (usually silk) using wood blocks invented in the 5th-6th centuries in China. An upper and a lower block is made, with carved out compartments opening to the back, fitted with plugs. The cloth, usually folded a number of times, is inserted and clamped between the two blocks. By unplugging the different compartments and filling them with dyes of different colours, a multi-coloured pattern can be printed over quite a large area of folded cloth. The method is not strictly printing however, as the pattern is not caused by pressure against the block. 
The use of round "cylinder seals" for rolling an impress onto clay tablets goes back to early Mesopotamian civilization before 3,000 BCE, where they are the commonest works of art to survive, and feature complex and beautiful images. Mesopotamia (from the Greek meaning "land between the rivers" is an area geographically located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers largely corresponding In both China and Egypt, the use of small stamps for seals preceded the use of larger blocks. In Egypt, Europe, and India, the printing of cloth certainly preceded the printing of paper or papyrus; this was probably also the case in China. The process is essentially the same—in Europe special presentation impressions of prints were often printed on silk until at least the seventeenth century. An old master print is a work of art produced by a Printing process within the Western tradition (European or New World Silk is a natural Protein Fiber, some forms of which can be woven into Textiles The best-known type of silk is obtained from cocoons
The earliest woodblock printed fragments to survive are from China and are of silk printed with flowers in three colours from the Han dynasty (before 220 CE). The Han Dynasty ( 206 BC–220 AD followed the Qin Dynasty and preceded the Three Kingdoms in China.  The earliest Egyptian printed cloth dates from the 4th century.  but the dry conditions in Egypt are exceptionally good for preserving fabric compared to, for example, India.
It is clear that the Chinese were the first by several centuries to use the process to print solid text, and equally that, much later, in Europe the printing of images on cloth developed into the printing of images on paper (woodcuts). For the origins of the technique and non-artistic use see Woodblock printing; for the related technique invented in the 18th century see Wood engraving It is also now established that the use in Europe of the same process to print substantial amounts of text together with images in block-books only came after the development of movable type in the 1450s. Movable type is the system of Printing and Typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document (usually individual letters or punctuation It is not clear if the Egyptian printing of cloth was learned from China, or elsewhere, or developed separately.
In China, an alternative to woodblock printing was a system of reprography since the Han Dynasty using carved stone steles to reproduce pages of text. Reprography is the reproduction of Graphics through mechanical or electrical means such as Photography or Xerography. A stele (from Greek:, stēlē, ˈstiːli plural stelae,, stēlai, ˈstiːlaɪ also found Latinised singular stela 
In India the main importance of the technique has always been as a method of printing textiles, which has been a large industry for centuries. Large quantities of printed Indian silk and cotton were exported to Europe throughout the Modern Period. Silk is a natural Protein Fiber, some forms of which can be woven into Textiles The best-known type of silk is obtained from cocoons Cotton is a soft staple Fibre that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant ( Gossypium sp The term modern period or modern era (sometimes also modern times) is the period of history that followed the Middle Ages between c
The three necessary components for woodblock printing are the wood block, which carries the design cut in relief; dye or ink, which had been widely used in the ancient world; and either cloth or paper, which was first developed in China, around the 3rd or 2nd century BC. A relief is a Sculptured Artwork where a modeled form is raised (or alternatively lowered from a flattened background without being disconnected from it An ink is a Liquid containing various Pigments and/or Dyes used for coloring a surface to produce an Image, text, or A textile is a flexible material comprised of a network of natural or artificial Fibres often referred to as thread or Yarn. Paper is thin material mainly used for writing upon printing upon or packaging The 3rd century BC started the first day of 300 BC and ended the last day of 201 BC Woodblock printing on papyrus seems never to have been practised, although it would be possible. Papyrus (/pəˈpaɪrəs/ (Rhymes -aɪrəs)is a thick paper-like material produced from the Pith of the papyrus plant Cyperus papyrus
Because Chinese has a character set running into the thousands, woodblock printing suits it better than movable type to the extent that characters only need to be created as they occur in the text. Written Chinese comprises the written symbols used to represent Spoken Chinese and the rules about how they are arranged and punctuated A character encoding consists of a code that pairs a sequence of characters from a given character set (sometimes incorrectly referred to as Code page Movable type is the system of Printing and Typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document (usually individual letters or punctuation Although the Chinese had invented a form of movable type with baked clay in the 11th century, and metal movable type was introduced in Korea in the 13th century, woodblocks continued to be preferred owing to the formidable challenges of typesetting Chinese text with its 40,000 or more characters. Movable type is the system of Printing and Typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document (usually individual letters or punctuation Also, the objective of printing in the East may have been more focused on standardization of ritual text (such as the Buddhist canon Tripitaka, requiring 130,000 woodblocks), and the purity of validated woodblocks could be maintained for centuries. The Tripiṭaka ( Sanskrit; Devanagari: त्रिपिटक lit  When there was a need for the reproduction of a text, the original block could simply be brought out again, while moveable type necessitated error-prone composition of distinct "editions".
In China, Korea, and Japan, the state involved itself in printing at a relatively early stage; initially only the government had the resources to finance the carving of the blocks for long works. Korea is a geographic area composed of two sovereign countries a civilization and a former state situated on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Japan topics.
The difference between East Asian woodblock printing and the Western printing press had major implications for the development of book culture and book markets in East Asia and Europe. A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a medium (such as paper or cloth thereby transferring an image
Woodblock printing in China is strongly associated with Buddhism, which encouraged the spread of charms and sutras. The Tang Dynasty ( Middle Chinese: dhɑng (June 18 618&ndashJune 4 907 was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by The British Museum is a Museum of human history and culture in London. Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices In the Tang Dynasty, a Chinese writer named Fenzhi first mentioned in his book "Yuan Xian San Ji" that the woodblock was used to print Buddhist scriptures during the Zhenguan years (627~649 AD). The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following A person who resides in and holds citizenship of the People's Republic of China (including Hong The oldest known Chinese surviving printed work is a woodblock-printed Buddhist scripture of Wu Zetian period (684~705 AD); discovered in Turfan, Xinjiang province, China in 1906, it is now stored in a calligraphy museum in Tokyo, Japan. China ( Wade-Giles ( Mandarin) Chung¹kuo² is a cultural region, an ancient Civilization, and depending on perspective a National Wu Zetian ( (625 – December 16, 705 In 705 she was overthrown in a coup and Emperor Zhongzong was returned to the throne Turfan or Tulufan (تۇرپان|Turpan|Turpan Modern Chinese: 吐魯番, Pinyin: Tǔlǔfān is an Oasis city in the Xinjiang ( Uyghur: شىنجاڭ Shinjang;; Postal map spelling: Sinkiang; Turkish: Sincan, Sincan Uygur Özerk officially, is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and located on the eastern side of the main island Honshū. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Japan topics.
A woodblock print of the Dharani sutra dated between AD 704 and 751 was found at Bulguksa, South Korea in 1966. Bulguksa is a Buddhist temple in the North Gyeongsang province in South Korea. South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea and often referred to as Korea ( Korean: 대한민국 tɛː     Its Buddhist text was printed on a mulberry paper scroll 8 cm wide and 630 cm long in the early Korean Kingdom of Unified Silla. Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices The Paper Mulberry ( Broussonetia papyrifera, syn Morus papyrifera L Unified Silla ( 668 CE - 935 CE or Later Silla is the name often applied to the kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Another version of the Dharani sutra, printed in Japan around 770 AD, is also frequently cited as an example of early printing. One million copies of the sutra, along with other prayers, were ordered to be produced by Empress Shōtoku. Empress Shōtoku (称徳天皇 Shōtoku-tennō) (718 &ndash August 28, 770) was both the 46th and the 48th imperial ruler As each copy was then stored in a tiny wooden pagoda, the copies are together known as the Hyakumantō Darani (百万塔陀羅尼, "1,000,000 towers/pagodas Darani").
The world's earliest dated (868 AD) printed book is a Chinese scroll about sixteen feet long and containing the text of the Diamond Sutra. The Diamond Sutra is a short Mahayana Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom genre which teaches the practice of the avoidance of abiding in extremes It was found in 1907 by the archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein in Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, and is now in the British Museum. Archaeology, archeology, or archæology (from Greek grc ἀρχαιολογία archaiologia – grc ἀρχαῖος archaīos The Mogao Caves, or Mogao Grottoes ( (also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas and Dunhuang Caves) form a system of 492 temples 25km (15 Dunhuang ( also written as 燉煌 till early Qing Dynasty; is a City (pop The British Museum is a Museum of human history and culture in London. The book displays a great maturity of design and layout and speaks of a considerable ancestry for woodblock printing. The colophon, at the inner end, reads: Reverently [caused to be] made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong [i. A colophon in publishing can refer to A brief description usually located at the end of a book describing production notes relevant to the edition A printer's e. 11th May, CE 868 ].
In late 10th century China the complete Buddhist canon Tripitaka of 130,000 pages was printed with blocks, which took between 1080 and 1102, and many other very long works were printed. The Tripiṭaka ( Sanskrit; Devanagari: त्रिपिटक lit Early books were on scrolls, but other book formats were developed. A scroll is a roll of Papyrus, Parchment, or Paper which has been written drawn or painted upon for the purpose of transmitting information or using as Traditional Chinese bookbinding refers to the method of bookbinding that the Chinese (as well as Koreans and Japanese have used in recent centuries before converting to the modern First came the Jingzhe zhuang or "sutra binding", a scroll folded concertina-wise, which avoided the need to unroll half a scroll to see a passage in the middle. About 1,000AD "butterfly binding" was developed; two pages were printed on a sheet, which was then folded inwards. The sheets were then pasted together at the fold to make a codex with alternate openings of printed and blank pairs of pages. A codex ( Latin for block of wood, Book; plural codices) is a book in the format used for modern books with separate pages normally In the fourteenth century the folding was reversed outwards to give continuous printed pages, each backed by a blank hidden page. Later the bindings were sewn rather than pasted. Only relatively small volumes (juan) were bound up, and several of these would be enclosed in a cover called a tao, with wooden boards at front and back, and loops and pegs to close up the book when not in use. For example one complete Tripitaka had over 6,400 juan in 595 tao. 
The technique is found through East and Central Asia, and in the Byzantine world for cloth, and by 1000 AD examples of woodblock printing on paper appear in Islamic Egypt. This article is about the country of Egypt For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Egypt topics. Printing onto cloth had spread much earlier, and was common in Europe by 1300. Woodblock printing on paper of images only began in Europe around 1400, almost as soon as paper became available, and the print in woodcut, later joined by engraving, quickly became an important cultural tradition for popular religious works, as well as playing cards and other uses. An old master print is a work of art produced by a Printing process within the Western tradition (European or New World For the origins of the technique and non-artistic use see Woodblock printing; for the related technique invented in the 18th century see Wood engraving Engraving is the practice of incising a design onto a hard usually flat surface by cutting grooves into it A playing card is a piece of specially prepared heavy paper thin card or thin plastic figured with distinguishing motifs and used as one of a set for playing Card games 
Many early Chinese examples, such as the Diamond Sutra (above) contain images, mostly Buddhist, that are often elaborate. Later, some notable artists designed woodblock images for books, but the separate artistic print did not develop in China as it did in Europe and Japan. Apart from devotional images, mainly Buddhist, few "single-leaf" Chinese prints were made until the nineteenth century.
Block-books, where both text and images are cut on blocks, appeared in Europe in the 1460s as a cheaper alternative to books printed by movable type. The Biblia pauperum ("Paupers' Bible" was a tradition of picture Bibles beginning in the later Middle Ages. Typology is a theological doctrine of theory of types and their antitypes found in Scripture. In Christianity the Annunciation ( grc Ευαγγελισμός της Θεοτόκου, Evangelismós tēs Theotókou in Greek) is the revelation Movable type is the system of Printing and Typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document (usually individual letters or punctuation  A woodcut is an image, perhaps with a title, cut in a single block and used as a book illustration with adjacent text printed using movable type. For the origins of the technique and non-artistic use see Woodblock printing; for the related technique invented in the 18th century see Wood engraving The only example of the blockbook form that contains no images is the school textbook Latin grammar of Donatus. Aelius Donatus (fl late 4th century AD was a Roman Grammarian and teacher of Rhetoric.
The most famous block-books are the Speculum Humanae Salvationis and the Ars moriendi, though in this the images and text are on different pages, but all block-cut. The Speculum Humanae Salvationis or Mirror of Human Salvation was a bestselling anonymous illustrated work of popular theology in the late Middle Ages, Ars moriendi ("The Art of Dying" is the name of two related Latin texts dating from about 1415 and 1450 which offer advice on the protocols and procedures The Biblia pauperum, a Biblical picture-book, was the next most common title, and the great majority of block-books were popular devotional works. The Biblia pauperum ("Paupers' Bible" was a tradition of picture Bibles beginning in the later Middle Ages. All block-books are fairly short at less than fifty pages. While in Europe movable metal type soon became cheap enough to replace woodblock printing for the reproduction of text, woodcuts remained a major way to reproduce images in illustrated works of early modern European printing. See old master print. An old master print is a work of art produced by a Printing process within the Western tradition (European or New World
Most block-books before about 1480 were printed on only one side of the paper — if they were printed by rubbing it would be difficult to print on both sides without damaging the first one to be printed. Many were printed with two pages per sheet, producing a book with opening of two printed pages, followed by openings with two blank pages (as earlier in China). The blank pages were then glued together to produce a book looking like a type-printed one. Where both sides of a sheet have been printed, it is presumed a printing-press was used. A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a medium (such as paper or cloth thereby transferring an image
The earliest woodblock printing known is in colour—Chinese silk from the Han Dynasty printed in three colours. was a Japanese Ukiyo-e artist and one of the last great artists in that tradition "pictures of the floating world" is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints (or Woodcuts) and Paintings produced between the 17th China ( Wade-Giles ( Mandarin) Chung¹kuo² is a cultural region, an ancient Civilization, and depending on perspective a National Silk is a natural Protein Fiber, some forms of which can be woven into Textiles The best-known type of silk is obtained from cocoons The Han Dynasty ( 206 BC–220 AD followed the Qin Dynasty and preceded the Three Kingdoms in China. 
On paper, European woodcut prints with coloured blocks were invented in Germany in 1508 and are known as chiaroscuro woodcuts. Chiaroscuro ( Italian for light-dark) is a term in Art for a contrast between light and dark Colour is very common in Asian woodblock printing on paper; in China the first known example is a book on ink-cakes printed in 1606 and the technique reached its height in books on painting published in the seventeenth century. China ( Wade-Giles ( Mandarin) Chung¹kuo² is a cultural region, an ancient Civilization, and depending on perspective a National Notable examples are the Treatise on the Paintings and Writings of the Ten Bamboo Studio of 1633, and the Mustard Seed Garden Painting Manual published in 1679 and 1701. 
In Japan, a multi-colour technique, called nishiki-e ("brocade pictures"), spread more widely, and was used for prints, from the 1760s on. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Japan topics. (lit "brocade picture" refers to Japanese multi-colored Woodblock printing; this technique is used primarily in Ukiyo-e. Japanese woodcut became a major artistic form, although at the time it was accorded a much lower status than painting.
In both Europe and Japan, book illustrations were normally printed in black ink only, and colour reserved for individual artistic prints. In China, the reverse was true, and colour printing was used mainly in books on art.
The earliest known woodblock printing dates from 764-770, when an Empress commissioned one million small wooden pagodas containing short printed scrolls (typically 6 x 45 cm) to be distributed to temples. Woodblock printing in Japan (木版画 moku hanga) is a technique best known for its use in the Ukiyo-e artistic genre however it was A pagoda is the general term in the English language for a tiered Tower with multiple Eaves common in China, Japan, Korea  Apart from the production of Buddhist texts, which became widespread from the eleventh century in Japan, the process was only adopted in Japan for secular books surprisingly late, and a Chinese-Japanese dictionary of 1590 is the earliest known example. Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities
Though the Jesuits operated a movable type printing-press in Nagasaki, printing equipment brought back by Toyotomi Hideyoshi's army from Korea in 1593 had far greater influence on the development of the medium. The Society of Jesus ( Latin: Societas Iesu, SJ and SI or SJ, SI) is a Catholic religious order Movable type is the system of Printing and Typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document (usually individual letters or punctuation A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a medium (such as paper or cloth thereby transferring an image ( is the Capital and the largest city of Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan. Korea is a geographic area composed of two sovereign countries a civilization and a former state situated on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. Four years later, Tokugawa Ieyasu, even before becoming shogun, effected the creation of the first native movable type, using wooden type-pieces rather than metal.  was the founder and first Shogun  of the Tokugawa shogunate is a military rank and historical title in Japan. The Japanese word for "general" it is made up of two Kanji words sho, meaning "commander" He oversaw the creation of 100,000 type-pieces, which were used to print a number of political and historical texts.
An edition of the Confucian Analects was printed in 1598, using a Korean moveable type printing press, at the order of Emperor Go-Yōzei. Confucius ( lit " Master Kung " September 28, 551 BC - 479 BC) was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher The Analects ( also known as the Analects of Confucius, are a record of the words and acts of the central Chinese thinker and philosopher Emperor Go-Yōzei (後陽成天皇 Go-Yōzei-tennō) ( December 31, 1572 - September 25, 1617) was the 107th emperor This document is the oldest work of Japanese moveable type printing extant today. Despite the appeal of moveable type, however, it was soon decided that the running script style of Japanese writings would be better reproduced using woodblocks, and so woodblocks were once more adopted; by 1640 they were once again being used for nearly all purposes. Semi-cursive script is a partially cursive style of Chinese calligraphy. 
It quickly gained popularity among artists of ukiyo-e, and was used to produce small, cheap, art prints as well as books. "pictures of the floating world" is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints (or Woodcuts) and Paintings produced between the 17th Japan began to see something of literary mass production. The content of these books varied widely, including travel guides, advice manuals, kibyōshi (satirical novels), sharebon (books on urban culture), art books, and play scripts for the jōruri (puppet) theatre. is a genre of Japanese picture book Kusazōshi (草双紙 produced during the middle of the Edo period. The was a pre-modern Japanese literary Genre. Plots revolved around humor and entertainment at the pleasure quarters. Often, within a certain genre, such as the jōruri theatre scripts, a particular style of writing would come to be the standard for that genre; in other words, one person's personal calligraphic style was adopted as the standard style for printing plays.
In East Asia, woodblock printing proved to be more enduring than in Europe, continuing well into the 19th century as the major form of printing texts, especially in China, even after the introduction of the European printing press. Palm leaf manuscripts are Manuscripts made out of dried palm leaves
Jesuits stationed in China in the 16th and 17th centuries indeed preferred to use woodblocks for their own publishing projects, noting how inexpensive and convenient it was. The Society of Jesus ( Latin: Societas Iesu, SJ and SI or SJ, SI) is a Catholic religious order Only with the introduction of more mechanized printing methods from the West in the 19th century did printing in East Asia move towards metal moveable type and the printing press
In countries using Arabic, Turkish and similar scripts, works, especially the Qu'ran were sometimes printed by lithography in the nineteenth century, as the links between the characters require compromises when movable type is used which were considered inappropriate for sacred texts. The Qur’an ( القرآن, literally "the recitation" also sometimes transliterated as Qur’ān, Koran, Alcoran Lithography is a method for Printing using a plate or stone with a completely smooth surface 
Block printing has also been extensively used for decorative purposes such as fabrics and wallpaper. A textile is a flexible material comprised of a network of natural or artificial Fibres often referred to as thread or Yarn. This page refers to the material used for Interior decoration. This is easiest with repetitive patterns composed of one or a small number of motifs that are small to medium in size (due to the difficulty of carving and handling larger blocks). In art a motif is a repeated idea pattern image or theme Paisley designs are referred to as motifs For a multi-colour pattern, each colour element is carved as a separate block and individually inked and applied. Block printing was the standard method of producing wallpaper until the early twentieth century, and is still used by a few traditionalist firms. This page refers to the material used for Interior decoration. It also remains in use for making cloth, mostly in small artisanal settings, for example in India. India, officially the Republic of India (भारत गणराज्य inc-Latn Bhārat Gaṇarājya; see also other Indian languages) is a country
See also woodblock printing on textiles. Woodblock printing on textiles is the process of printing Patterns on Textiles usually of Linen, Cotton or Silk, by means
This article is part of the series on the
|Phaistos Disc||1850–1400 BC|
|Woodblock printing||200 AD|
|Offset press||by 1800s|
|Dot matrix printer||1970|