Chinese Moveable Type

The world’s first known movable-type system for printing purposes was invented in China in 11th century, later than the Chinese invention, metal movable-type system was developed in Korea during 13th century. So why do we still remember Gutenberg’s movable type as the first one, or why did Gutenberg’s invention rapidly spread across Europe and lead up to the Renaissance and Chinese movable type didn’t. In Eastern parts of the world, movable-type system was not widely used because of the amount of labour involved in manipulating the ceramic and metal tablets.

In ancient China, printing had been practiced for very long time as block printing, the carved woodblocks were used to print a page with text. As the Chinese culture uses thousands of ideograms rather than total letters of 20 to 30, this method is thought to be more appropriate. Some archaelogists also argue that a Chinese inventor Bi Sheng improved this method by creating a specific typeface and this was the beginning of typography in China, but it failed to become widely used in China. Even after the death of this inventor, movable type and his fonts could not spread to China. Who knows if it had spread all over Asia, we could talk about an Eastern Renaissance, 200 years before the European one.

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