Olympics visitors thrilled by China’s ancient printing technique

August 29th, 2008 - 11:15 am ICT by IANS  

Hangzhou (China), Aug 29 (Xinhua) Dongyuan, a mountainous small village in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, could never have expected the Beijing Olympics to bring so much for it.During the 17-day Beijing Games, tourists flocked to Dongyuan to see the age-old wooden movable-type printing technique since this village is the only one in China where people have been using the 800-year old technology.

“Before the Beijing Olympics, most visitors were either researchers or collectors of ancient books. After the opening ceremony of the Olympics, a lot more visitors, many of them students, came to take a look,” said Wei Xianzhu, staff of Dongyuan’s movable-type printing exhibition hall.

After the Aug 8 opening ceremony of the Games, many people called to get more information about the technology and the number of the visitors in the last ten days rose notably over the same period the whole of last year, she said.

At the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games, spectators and TV viewers around the world were thrilled by a four-minute performance showcasing the movable-type printing, with a formation of some 900 men imitating the operation of a printer and creating the image of the Chinese character “he” — meaning harmony and peace — in different calligraphic styles.

According to Wei, Dongyuan villagers use the technology to print their pedigrees.

She said the exhibition hall was keeping more than 40,000 wooden types of Chinese characters as well as 27 layouts.

The technique of making wooden movable-type and then using it to print has been passed down from generation to generation in this remote village, making this ancient craft a living example of China’s ancient civilization.

It has been listed as one of China’s national intangible cultural heritages.

Movable-type printing, along with papermaking, gunpowder and the compass, were the four best-known ancient inventions by Chinese people. In the West, the first printing press came into being in 1439.

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