• Utopia 500

Cai Lun

Born: 50 AD

Died: 121 AD

Nationality: China

Cai Lun was a Han dynasty Chinese eunuch and official. The pulp paper making process is said to have been developed by him in China during the early 2nd century AD, possibly as early as the year 105 AD. Although early forms of paper had existed in China since the 2nd century BC, he was responsible for the first significant improvement and standardization of paper-making by adding essential new materials into its composition.

The creator of this extremely important invention is only somewhat known outside East Asia. After Cai invented the paper making process in 105 AD, it became widely used as a writing medium in China by the 3rd century. It enabled China to develop its civilization (through widespread literature and literacy) much faster than it had with earlier writing materials (primarily bamboo and silk, of which the latter was a more expensive medium).

By the 7th century, China's paper-making technique had spread to Korea, Vietnam and Japan. In 751 AD, some Chinese paper makers were captured by Arabs after Tang troops were defeated in the Battle of Talas River. The techniques of paper making were then spread to the West. When paper was first introduced to Europe in the 12th century, it gradually revolutionized the manner in which written communication could be spread from region to region. Along with contact between Arabs and Europeans during the Crusades (with the essential recovery of ancient Greek written classics), the widespread use of paper aided the foundation of the Scholastic Age in Europe.

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