The Diamond Sutra
The Story of the World's Earliest Dated Printed Book
Distributed for British Library
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 Gutenberg’s 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 It reveals how the Sutra was originally made and the conservation work that the British Library employs to preserve it.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.
“A crisply written, finely illustrated, general-interest guide.”
Chapter One A Race
Chapter Two A Cave
Chapter Three A Sutra
Chapter Four A Production
Chapter Five A Journey
Chapter Six A Restoration