Early Printing in Korea - 2.2 The Development of Printing Materials
|Understanding Korea Series No.2|
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|1) The Emergence of Printing Culture and Korea||2) The Development of Printing Materials||3. Woodblock Printing and Movable Type Printing|
It is hard to record anything without paper and pen. Likewise, progress in printing technique requires advancement in printing materials. The latter were usually derived from handwriting materials; paper and ink were the foundations of printing in the East.
Paper of the East is mainly made from plant fiber base, and the current form was perfected by Cai Lun in the year 105, during the Han Dynasty. Paper was spread to Europe as well, after its convenience and economic value were proven.
The exact point of transmission is uncertain, but since Korea was adjacent to China and the two countries engaged in an active cultural exchange, the technique must have been introduced relatively early. There is a record supporting such opinion, stating that Damjing, a Buddhist monk from Goguryeo, relayed the paper manufacturing technique to Japan in the 21st year of King Yeongyangwang’s reign (610). This suggests that paper was already in existence in Korea before the beginning of the 7th century. Another discovered manuscript, made of high quality paper produced with dhak treefiber (paper mulberry, broussonetia papyrifera) is estimated to have been produced during the Silla period. One can guess that the paper manufacturing technique may have been already highly refined by that time, and the technique recorded at the end of Daebanggwangbul Hwaeomgyeong, written on white paper in ink (白紙墨書大方廣佛華嚴經) confirms this. Other records of Korean paper during Korea’s Three Kingdom period are apparent in some ancient tomb murals and other contemporary manuscripts.
This paper manufacturing technique continued to develop during the Goryeo period. The contemporary Chinese Song Dynasty praised Goryeo’s paper as ‘the best in the world’. This acclamation from China, the country that invented paper, was due to Goryeo’s superior raw material quality, made from mulberry tree, and the advanced paper manufacturing technique producing hard and silky papers.
Ink is another critical material, and as with paper, Korea has produced high quality ink since the Three Kingdom period. There is a record of Goguryeo’s Songyeonmuk (松煙墨, pine charcoal ink) offered to the Tang dynasty as a tribute. Ink sticks from the Silla period with inscriptions, Silla Yanggasangmuk (新羅楊家上墨, ink from the Yang family) and Silla Mugasangmuk (新羅武家上墨, ink from the Mu family), are still preserved in Japan’s Imperial Repository, Shosoin.
Ink was produced by mixing carbon-black from old pines with a special glue obtained from water deer (hydropotes inermis argyropus). Gosa Sinseo (攷事新書, Fresh Notes Made According to Events of Long Ago) written in the late Joseon period elaborates the process in greater detail: first, prepare ten geun (1 geun = 600 grams) of boiled and dried pure pine charcoal in a bag, four geun of glue, and ten geun of water; second, put four geun of glue in nine geun of water in a copper pot and heat it until the glue melts; third, thoroughly mix in the charcoal and transfer the mixture into a separate container; forth, wash the pot with remaining one geun of water and pound the mixture numerous times, pouring the wash water over it.
The paintbrush and ink-tablet are closely related to ink, as they are critical writing material elements, assumed to have started use around the same time.
The remaining ink-tablets from the Three Kingdom period are usually of Baekje; ink-tablets from the Sabiseong and Hanseong periods were excavated in bulk, and several were recovered in Anapji located in Gyeongju. Recently, a paintbrush dated in the first century B.C. was excavated in Dahori tomb number one in Changwon, which proves that brushes were in use from ancient times, and a mural in Anak tomb number three shows a government official holding a brush.
- Nihon Shoki (日本書紀): entry made in March of 18th Year of Empress Suiko-tenno’s reign.
- Choi Jaeseok, Shosoin sojangpumgwa tongilsilla (The Collections of Shosoin and Unified Silla) (Seoul: Iljogak, 1995), pp.588-610.
- According to a research from North Korea, a mural in Anak tomb number three, which recorded ink in the year 375, shows a government official holding a scroll, and paper dated to the 4th century made of hemp was excavated from an archeological site in Guksabong of Daeseongsan mountain in Pyongyang. Refer to Ri Cheolhwa, Joseonchulpanmunhwasa(Joseon’s Publication History) (Pyongyang: Sahoegwahakchulpansa, 1995), p.26; see also The Illustrated Book of Ruins and Relics of Korea Compilation Committee, Bukhanui munhwajaewa munhwayujeok I Goguryeopyeon (Cultural Assets and Sites in North Korea, vol. 1 Goguryeo) (Seoul: Seoul National University Press, 2000), p.37.
- DoJongeui, “Cheolgyeongnok,” Chapter 29, Charcoal Section.
- The Illustrated Book of Ruins and Relics of Korea Compilation Committee, Bukhanui munhwajaewa munhwayujeok I Goguryeopyeon (Cultural Assets and Sites in North Korea, vol. 1 Goguryeo) (Seoul: Seoul National University Press, 2000), p.37.
|Understanding Korea Series No.2 Early Printings in Korea|
2. The Origins of World Printing Culture and Korea · 2.1 The Emergence of Printing Culture and Korea · 2.2 The Development of Printing Materials