Cai Lun-improving papermaking technology

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Cai Lun (61 / 63-121), with the word Jing Zhong, was born in Guiyang County in the Eastern Han Dynasty. In the second year of Zhanghe (AD 88) when Emperor Yongping of the Han and Ming Dynasties entered the palace to serve, Cai Lun was promoted to the rank of Zhongchang attendant because of his meritorious service to the Empress Dowager. Cai Lun also served as the Minister of justice in the capacity of respecting Jiuqing.

Cai Lun Papermaking

When improving papermaking, director Cai Lun supervised the manufacture of various artifacts used in the palace. He picked out bark, rags and old fishing nets, and asked craftsmen to cut them up and soak them in a large pool. After a period of time, the sundries in it rotted away, and the fiber was not perishable, so it was retained. He then asked the craftsmen to pick up the soaked raw materials, put them into the stone mortar, and keep stirring until they become slurry. Then he picked up the sticky things with bamboo strips, and when they were dry, they took them off and turned them into paper. Cai Lun led the craftsmen to experiment repeatedly and trial produce paper that is light, thin and flexible, easy to obtain, widely sourced and cheap.

In the first year of Yuanxing (A.D. 105), Cai Lun presented paper to Emperor Hanhe. Cai Lun wrote a memorial of the method of papermaking and presented it to the emperor together with the paper. With the appreciation of the emperor, he ordered the use and promotion of it both inside and outside the imperial court, which was regarded as a miracle by all the officials of the imperial court and all over the country. Nine years later, Cai Lun was granted the title of "Dragon Pavilion Hou", with 300 households in Shiyi. Since the new papermaking method gradually implemented throughout the country was invented by Cai Lun, people call this kind of paper "Cai Hou paper".

Cai Lun's improved papermaking technology spread to the whole world along the Silk Road through Central Asia and Western Europe, making an indelible contribution to the inheritance and development of world civilization.

Cai Lun's improved papermaking technology is listed as the "four great inventions" in ancient China. It has made outstanding contributions to the spread of human culture and the progress of world civilization, and has been respected by people for thousands of years. It is regarded as the ancestor of papermaking and the "God of paper". Chua Lun ranked seventh in Mike Hart's list of 100 celebrities who have influenced the process of human history. Cai Lun was on the list of "the best inventor of all time" published by time magazine. At the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Cai Lun's improved papermaking was specially displayed.

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