The traditional definition of printing is the application of a colouring agent to reproduce text or illustrations. However, modern printing processes are not based on the material or mechanical concept of colouring agents and may ultimately replace traditional processes. Modern printing techniques may be characterized as any of several processes for reproducing text and illustrations on a durable surface, including paper or other materials. Printing also may be defined as the production of a desired number of identical copies.
Before the Europeans developed printing as a process for printing, the Chinese had already had paper and an ink formula for more than 25 centuries. They also had marble pillars on which they inscribed texts. In the Orient, people often prayed and recited sacred texts by daubing ink on them. Printing began to spread throughout Europe in the 15th century. Its impact is still felt today. In many ways, printing is a process of communication and preserving a culture’s history.
The Chinese inventor of movable type, Bi Sheng, used small clay blocks with relief and arranged them in a printing frame. Although Chinese printing is the oldest known form of printing, many Chinese printers still use carved wooden blocks. In Korea, the Goryeo scholars produce the Tripitaka Koreana, which contains 81,000 wooden printing blocks. Printing techniques in Europe began in the late 1300s, and the Goryeo school became known for its block printing.