21. Pre-Gutenberg Printing

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Blockprinting on paper started in China in the 7th c, but no examples survive. The oldest surviving printing was found in the Buddhist temple Pulguk-sa, Kyongju, Korea - a small dharani scroll printed 704-751, until then considered the oldest printing in the world. Fourteen examples (81 volumes) of blockprinting and movable type printing from the period 770 to 1442 are selected here out of 152 items.

ROYAL INSCRIPTION OF NARAM-SÎN | MS 5106

MS in Sumerian on clay, Akkad, Sumer, 2291-2254 BC, 1 brick printing block, 13x13x10 cm, 3 lines in a large formal cuneiform script, large loop handle. 

TO NINGIRSU, MIGHTY WARRIOR OF ENLIL | MS 1937

Blockprint in blind in Sumerian on clay, Lagash, Sumer, 2141-2122 BC, 1 brick, 32x32x7 cm, 6+4 columns, in cuneiform script. 

AMAR-SIN OF NIPPUR BRICK STAMP INSCRIPTION | MS 2764

 MS in Neo Sumerian on white marble, Sumer, 2046-2038 BC, 1 brick printing block, 18,5x10,0x3,5 cm, single column, 7 lines in cuneiform script, with a handle on the back.

AMAR-SIN IN NIPPUR, KING OF THE 4 QUARTERS OF THE WORLD | MS 1878

Blockprint in blind in Neo Sumerian on clay, Nippur, Sumer, reign of King Amar-Sin, 2047-2038 BC, 1 brick, 17x19x6 cm, originally ca. 33x33x6 cm, 9 columns, (10x11 cm) in cuneiform script. 

TOWER OF BABEL BRICK | MS 1815/1

 Blockprint in blind in Neo Babylonian on clay, Babylon, 604-562 BC, 1 brick, 33x33x9 cm, single column, (11x15 cm), 7 lines in cuneiform script blindprinted into the wet clay, within a lined rectangle, prior to baking.

INVOCATION TO THE GOD PHOEBUS APOLLO | MS 5236

Printing in Greek on gold, Euboia, Greece, or Knidos, Turkey, ca. 6th c. BC, 1 lamella with rounded corners, 2,8x9,0x0,1 cm, 6 lines in fine Greek capitals of Euboia or Knidos type. 

MUKUJOKO-KYO; VIMALA-NIRBHASEA-SUTRA | MS 2489

 Blockprint in Japanese on paper, Nara, Japan, 764-770, 1 scroll, 6x45 cm, 31 columns, (5x36 cm), 5 characters per column in Chinese book script, inside a wooden 3-storey pagoda.

zuenpuo-xumi-pusa-suoji-lun-sutra-ms-2536-2

Blockprint in Chinese on paper, Korea, 1011-1082, 51 pp. (complete), 30x11 cm, 23 columns, (25x11 cm), 14-15 characters in Chinese book script, 3 collectors' seals.