But Chen's printing method did catch on, albeit slowly, and was used for reproducing documents in the centuries that followed.Metal type — made from bronze and perhaps tin — was also used in China for the printing of books and paper money until at least the 18th century.Even though the church demonstrated strict limitations to advancement, Manchester notes that the institution was not penalized: “The Christian faith was not repudiated, but the new concept of the cultivated man was the Renaissance , the universal man: creator, artist, scholar, and encyclopedic genius in the spirit of the ancient paideia” (Manchester 105).
A copied manuscript was a work of art that took numerous months to complete.
While a copy of work, handwritten manuscripts were original and unique reproductions.
Nearly 600 years before Gutenberg, Chinese monks were setting ink to paper using a method known as block printing, in which wooden blocks are coated with ink and pressed to sheets of paper.
One of the earliest surviving books printed in this fashion — an ancient Buddhist text known as "The Diamond Sutra" — was created in 868 during the Tang (T'ang) Dynasty (618-909) in China.
The ink he used was a mix of pine resin, wax and paper ashes, and as Kuo tells it, Sheng's method could be used to print thousands of copies of a document fairly quickly.
While earthenware movable type was used by several other Chinese printers throughout the 12th and 13th centuries, Sheng's movable type didn't go mainstream in China or elsewhere until many centuries later.
The printing press attempted to mimic the artistry of copied works by including illuminated initials and hand-drawn rubrics, but “The new craft did not at once cause the collapse of the copying industry; wealthy scholars were at first prejudiced against the use of print, deeming it an unworthy method to enshrine the thoughts of the great” (Chamberlin 166).
The true distaste lay in the wealthy snubbing the thought of the common people experiencing life as grandly as they could, and possibly a fear of knowledge bridging the gap between the classes.
In the 14th century, Wang Chen, a Chinese government official of the Yuan Dynasty, independently created his own set of movable characters out of wood.
His motivation for developing this new method of printing was the publication of a voluminous series of books on agriculture, titled "Nung Shu.""Nung Shu" was eventually printed in 1313 using tried-and-true woodblock methods, not movable type.