Cai Lun Invents Paper (Great Events from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: Cai Lun, an imperial court official and scientist during the Eastern Han Dynasty, invented paper, a material that would prove useful in communications and in many other ways.
Summary of Event
Cai Lun was born in Guiyang (Kuei-Yang), present-day Chenzhou City in Hunan Province. There is little information about his early life. Historical records show that in 75 c.e., he entered the service of the imperial palace and became a liaison official with the privy council and chamberlain to the royal family. Later, he became the chief eunuch under Emperor He (Liu Zhao; r. 88-105/106 c.e.) of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 c.e.). Cai Lun held the high position of minister in charge of imperial edicts and documents and was adviser to the emperor on state affairs. The emperor also appointed him chief of the Imperial Supply Department and put him in charge of making swords and furniture for the royal household. Cai Lun was also assigned curatorial responsibility for the Imperial Library.
In the thirteenth year of his reign, the emperor inspected the library and directed Cai Lun to organize piles of heavy wooden board books that were rarely used. At this time, Cai Lun began research to find a lighter material for books because the large, heavy volumes were cumbersome and difficult to move and store. His research and experimentation resulted in the invention of paper, the most significant achievement in...
(The entire section is 1122 words.)
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