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Cai Lun Inventions

by Javed Pasha
Cai Lun Inventions

Cai Lun Inventions

We are all familiar with the amazing and revolutionary Paper. However, cai Lun inventions have made history and changed writing so that we don’t even have to use pens anymore!

cai Lun was a Chinese inventor who lived in the second half of the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). He was one of those Chinese geniuses who were born at the perfect time and in the right place for their talent to be realized.


Cai Lun Inventions Of Paper

Cai Lun (ca. 50-121 CE) was an official attached to the Imperial court during the Han Dynasty of China. His main contribution to history is the invention of a method of making paper from plant fibers, which has been in use ever since.

In 105 CE, Cai Lun presented his discovery to Emperor He Di. The Emperor was so pleased with the invention that he made Cai Lun a court official and granted him one of the highest ranks in his administration.

Cai Lun was a Chinese eunuch who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220 AD). He is traditionally regarded as the inventor of paper and the paper making process, though this is now known to be an exaggeration. Although the exact date of the invention and even the inventor of paper are still uncertain, it is known that paper was in general use throughout China during the later part of his reign.

Cai Lun’s innovation was to create a sheet of paper using mulberry and other bast fibres along with fishnets, old rags and hemp waste. Paper as it was in his day was a laminated product made from sheets and strips of cloth, cuttings of hemp, fishing nets and silk sewn together in varying combinations.


Cai Lun Invention Of Ink

Cai Lun invented hollow bamboo tubes, which made it possible to squeeze out and store ink. Before this invention, writing brushes had to be constantly dipped in an inkstone and the ink would often dry out on the paper.

The earliest writings on paper were found in tombs in China that date back to the first century AD. The writings are about politics and events of that time. These books were written on rolls of narrow strips of paper pasted together at the edges. Historians know that the ancient Chinese printed from blocks of wood as early as 220 AD, but only a few examples have survived.

Cai Lun Inventions


Cai Lun Invention Of Modern Paper Making Process

Paper making was the industry that most directly benefited from Cai Lun’s invention of paper.

In the early Western Han Dynasty (206B.C. – 24A.D.)

Before Cai Lun, the light and thin bamboo slip was the main writing material in ancient China. However, bamboo slips were not suitable for archiving and were difficult to store due to their bulkiness.

So people searched for a new medium for writing.

However, the search for a new medium was hindered by material limitations and insufficient technology at that time.


Cai Lun Other Inventions

In addition to inventing paper, Cai Lun is credited with the invention of a variety of other things.

The most important of these was a new type of silk fabric. The ancient Chinese used wild silk threads to make textiles, but Cai Lun developed a way to make the threads out of mulberry leaves.

Cai Lun also improved water clocks and invented fish-scale mortar for construction and a method for making saltpeter (potassium nitrate) for use in fireworks.

Cai Lun didn’t invent pencils either, but he did come up with a very important part of the pencil; the lead casing that holds the graphite together. Before Ts’ai Lun’s invention, graphite was brittle and broke easily when someone tried to write with it. 


Cai Lun Achievements

During the reign of Emperor Zhang (88-106 AD) of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the imperial court began to use paper as a writing medium. However, the paper then was not very good in quality or easy to use. That was why Cai Lun was asked to improve the quality and performance of the paper.

After five years’ research and practice, he finally created a new kind of paper, hence laying a foundation for Chinese papermaking. It is said that after Cai Lun’s invention, people were even more enthusiastic about reading and writing.

The finished papers made in Cai Lun’s period were not only used for documents but also for book making. Before that period, books were written on wooden boards or bamboo slips.

The bamboo slips had to be tied together with strings in order to read them. But with Cai Lun’s invention of paper, books could be made easier to read and write.


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