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The Diamond Sutra: The Story of the World's Earliest Dated Printed Book


The Diamond Sutra: The Story of the World's Earliest Dated Printed Book Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Buddhist text known as the Diamond Sutra is believed to be the oldest surviving printed book in the world. Made in 868 AD and written in Chinese, the text contains a significant dialogue on perception, and is one of the most important sacred works of the Buddhist faith. The Diamond Sutra was hidden for centuries in a cave in northwest China, and it was created from seven strips of yellow-stained paper that were printed from carved wooden blocks and pasted together to form a scroll over five meters long.  The oldest dated example of wood block printing—produced some six hundred years before Gutenbergs movable type printing in Europe—it is clearly the product of a mature printing industry in China.

This beautifully designed book, the first to focus solely on the Diamond Sutra, features a full-color reproduction of the work, along with an account of the discovery of the Sutra by Sir Aurel Stein in May 1907 in a hidden cave on the edge of the Gobi desert. The book extensively discusses the content of the Sutra and also describes the invention of paper in China and the origins of Far Eastern printing. It reveals how the Sutra was originally made and the conservation work that the British Library employs to preserve it.

The Diamond Sutra is a stunning book for anyone curious about the earliest origins of printing and the sacred foundations of Buddhism.

About the Author

Frances Wood is head of the Chinese section at the British Library. Her previous publications include Did Marco Polo Go to China?, Hand Grenade Practice in Peking: My Part in the Cultural Revolution, The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia, The First Emperor of China, and The Lure of ChinaMark Barnard is manager of the Conservation Section at the British Library and is currently undertaking the conservation of the Diamond Sutra.

Table of Contents


Chapter One     A Race

Chapter Two    A Cave

Chapter Three  A Sutra

Chapter Four   A Production

Chapter Five    A Journey

Chapter Six      A Restoration



Picture Credits  

Product Details

Wood, Frances
British Library
Barnard, Mark
Ancient - General
Art-History and Criticism
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
60 color plates
10 x 7.3 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Asia and Far East
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
History and Social Science » Asia » China » Imperial to 1911
History and Social Science » World History » Ancient History
History and Social Science » World History » China
History and Social Science » World History » General
Religion » Eastern Religions » Chinese Religion and Literature
Travel » General

The Diamond Sutra: The Story of the World's Earliest Dated Printed Book New Hardcover
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Product details 112 pages British Library - English 9780712350907 Reviews:
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