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A: Yazd Province, Iran

Persian Scholar Dawud al-Banakiti Records Appreciation of Chinese Printing for the Standardization of Correct Texts


In 1317 Persian scholar Dawud al-Banakiti wrote concerning Chinese printing in his Raudat uli'l-Albab (Garden of the Intelligent) a summary copied closely from the Jami'al-Tawarikh of polymath Rashīd al-Dīn Tabīb (Persian: رشیدالدین طبیب‎) also Rashīd al-Dīn Fadhl-allāh Hamadānī, which had been written in 1307:

"The Chinese are wont to make copies from books in such wise that no change or alteration can find its way into the text. And when they thus desire, they order a skillful calligrapher to copy a page of the book on a tablet in a fair hand, and then all the men of learning carefully correct it, inscribing their names on the back of the tablet. Then skilled and expert engravers are ordered to cut out the letters. And when they have thus taken a copy of all the pages of the book numbering all the blocks consecutively, they place them in sealed bags, like dies in a mint, and entrust them to reliable persons appointed for the purpose, keeping them securely in special offices on which they set a particular seal. When anyone wants a copy of the book he goes before the committee and pays the dues and charges fixed by the government, after which they bring out the tablets, impose them on leaves of paper like the dies are imposed on gold for coins, and so deliver the sheets to him. Thus it is impossible that there should be any omission or addition to any of their books, on which, therefore, they place complete reliance and thus is the transmission of the histories effected" (Needham, Clerks and Craftsmen in China and the West [1970] 23-24).

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