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Print Culture And The Modern World: 10 SST

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Question: Trace the history of print in China.
Or
How did China remain a major producer of printed materials for a long time?
Or
“The imperial state in China, was the major producer of printed material”. Support this statement.

Answer: 

  1. Hand Printing: The earliest kind of print technology was developed in China, Japan and Korea. This was a system of hand printing. From AD 594 on wards, books in China were printed by rubbing paper – also invented there- against the inked surface of woodblocks. As both sides of the thin, porous sheet could not be printed, the traditional Chinese ‘accordion book’ was folded and stitched at the side. Superbly skilled craftsmen could duplicate, with remarkable accuracy, the beauty of calligraphy.
  2. Major producer: The imperial state in China was, for a very long time, the major producer of printed material. China possessed a huge bureaucratic system which recruited its personnel through civil service examinations. Textbooks for this examination were printed in vast numbers under the sponsorship of the imperial state. From the sixteenth century, the number of examination candidates went up and that increased the volume of print.
  3. Printing in the 17th century: By the seventeenth century, as urban culture bloomed in China, the uses of print diversified. Print was no longer used just by scholar officials. Merchants used print in their everyday life, as they collected trade information. Reading increasingly became a leisure activity. The new readership preferred fictional narratives, poetry, autobiographies, anthologies of literary masterpieces, and romantic plays. Rich women began to read, and many women began publishing their poetry and plays. Wives of scholar-officials published their works and courtesans wrote about their lives.
  4. Printing in the 19th century: This new reading culture was accompanied by a new technology. Western printing techniques and mechanical presses were imported in the fate nineteenth century as Western powers established their outposts in China. Shanghai became the hub of the new print culture, catering to the Western-style schools. From hand printing there was now a gradual shift to mechanical printing.

Question: Mention some of the important characteristics of print culture of Japan.

Answer:

  1. Introduced by the Buddhist missionaries: The Buddhist missionaries from China introduced the hand printing technology into Japan around AD 768-770.
  2. Old book: The oldest Japanese book, printed in AD 868, is the Buddhist Diamond Sutra, containing six sheets of text and woodcut illustrations.
  3. Material: Playing cards, paper money and textile products were used for printing pictures.
  4. Cheap books: In the medieval Japan, the works of poets and prose writers were regularly published, and books were cheap and abundant.
  5. Print in Edo (Tokyo): In the late 18th century, in the flourishing urban circles at Edo (later to be known as Tokyo), illustrated collections of paintings depicting an elegant urban culture, involving artists, courtesans and teahouse gatherings.

Question: Trace the history of print in Europe.
Or
How did print culture develop in Europe?Explain.
Or
How did print come to Europe from China?Explain.

Answer:

  1. Paper from China: Paper reached Europe from China through the Silk route in the 11th century. With this, the production of manuscripts written by scribes became a regular feature.
  2. Role of travelers and explorers: Marco Polo, a great explorer reached Italy after several years of exploration in China in the year 1295. Marco Polo brought back with him the technology of woodblock printing. Now Italians started publishing books with woodblocks. The technology became popular in other parts of Europe, as well.
  3. Woodblock printing: By the early fifteenth century, woodblocks started being widely used in Europe to print textiles, playing cards and religious pictures with simple, brief texts.
  4. Johann Gutenberg and the printing press: A major revolution in the print technology was brought by Johann Gutenberg. He developed the first known printing press in the 1430’s. The first book he printed was the Bible.
  5. Spread of printing presses: In the next hundred years i.e. between 1450 and 1550, printing presses were set up in most countries of Europe.

Question: In which way did the early printed books closely resemble the manuscripts? Explain.
Or
Give three ways in which early printed books closely resembled manuscripts.

Answer:

  1. Early printed books were technically printed but those were not very different from manuscripts.
  2. There were many kinds of same features available in similar books which made printed books closely resembling with manuscripts.
  3. Both printed books and manuscripts looked similar because metal letters imitated the ornamental handwritten style.
  4. Like handwritten manuscripts, borders of printed books were also illuminated by hand with foliage and other patterns and illustrations were painted.
  5. In the books printed for rich people, space for decoration was kept blank on the printed pages.
  6. Each buyer could choose the design and decide on the painting school that would do the illustrations.

Question: What were the features of the new books which were produced in Europe after the invention of the Gutenberg’s press?

Answer:

  1. Cheap: The books produced were very cheap as compared to earlier books.
  2. Resemblance with manuscript: Printed books resembled greatly the written manuscripts in appearance and layout. The metal letters imitated the ornamental handwritten styles.
  3. Handwork: Borders of the books were illuminated by hand, with foliage and other patterns.
  4. Role of painting: Illustrations were painted. The books printed for the elites had space for decoration.
  5. Different painting schools: Different painting schools prevailed and a person could choose the design and decide on the painting school that would do the illustrations exclusively for him.

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