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A: Lianhu Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China

Feng Tao Orders the Confucian Classics to be Printed for Authentication and Preservation Rather than Distribution

932 CE to 953 CE

In 932 CE Feng Tao (Feng Dao), printer government official in China, ordered the printing of the Confucian classics from wood blocks in Xi'an. The work of editing and printing the Classics and their Commentaries lasted for 21 years, and extended to 130 volumes. For his contribution to improving the block-printing process Chinese scholars have compared Feng Dao him to Johannes Gutenberg.

"The chief purpose of printing was not yet to make literature more accesible to the masses, but rather to authenticate the text. For more than a century after Feng Tao—up to the year 1064—the private printing of the Classics was forbidden. All printing must be done by the government and must give the orthodox accepted text."

"The work of Feng Tao and his asssociates for printing in China may be compared to the work of Gutenberg in Europe. There had been printing before Gutenberg—block printing certainly and very likely experimentation in typography also—but Gutenberg's Bible heralded a new day in the civilization of Europe. In the same way there had been printing before Feng Tao, but it was an obscure art that had little efffect on the culture of the country. Feng Tao's Classics made printing a power that ushered in the renaissance of the Sung era" (Carter, Invention of Printing in China 2nd ed [1955] 72).

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