Cai Lun 蔡伦

He was regarded as the ancestor of papermaking


Chinese Name: 蔡伦

English Name: Cai Lun

Other Names: Cai Jingzhong蔡敬仲

Born: 61 A.D

Died: 121 A.D


Improve Papermaking改进造纸术

Invention of CAI Hou Paper发明蔡侯纸

Cai Lun 蔡伦
Cai Lun 蔡伦

Brief Biography of Cai Lun

Cai Lun, a native of Guiyang County in the Eastern Han Dynasty (now Leiyang, Hunan), came to the palace as a eunuch when he was a child. After he was elected to the palace, he began to work as an official in yeting, where his concubines lived next to the palace. A few years later, he was promoted to a small Huangmen eunuch who went in and out of the palace and passed imperial edicts. Cai Lun’s talent is increasingly revealed.

When Emperor Hanhe ascended the throne (AD 89), he was promoted to Zhongchang attendant who went in and out of the imperial court and served the emperor. Yu participated in strategies and became a high eunuch who conveyed imperial edicts, took charge of documents and participated in imperial politics.

Cai Lun 蔡伦

Cai Lun was full of experience and versatile since childhood. When he was in charge of Royal manufacturing, Cai Lun summarized people’s papermaking experience in the past, innovated papermaking technology, improved papermaking technology, and finally made “Cai Hou Paper”.

In 121 A.D, Cai Lun was ashamed of being humiliated, so after bathing, he dressed neatly in clothes and hats, drank poison and died.

Cai Lun’s improved papermaking technology is listed as the “four great inventions四大发明” in ancient China. It has made outstanding contributions to the dissemination of human culture and the progress of world civilization, and has been respected by people for thousands of years. It is regarded as the ancestor of papermaking and the “God of Paper纸神”.

“Cai Hou Paper” by Cai Lun

Cai Lun picked out bark, rags and old fishing nets, and asked craftsmen to cut them up and soak them in a large pool. After a period of time, the sundries rotted away, and the fiber was not perishable, so it was retained.

Cai Lun 蔡伦
Cai lun papermaking process

He then asked the craftsmen to pick up the soaked raw materials, put them into the stone mortar, and keep stirring until they become slurry. Then he picked up the sticky things with bamboo strips, and when they were dry, they took them off and turned them into paper. Cai Lun led the craftsmen to test and produce paper that is light, flexible, easy to obtain, widely sourced and cheap.

Cai Lun 蔡伦

In 105 A.D., Cai Lun presented paper to Emperor Han He(汉和帝). Cai Lun wrote a memorial of the method of papermaking and presented it to the emperor together with the paper. It was appreciated by the emperor and ordered the imperial court to use and promote it. Nine years later, Cai Lun was named “Long Ting Hou龙亭侯”. Because the new papermaking method gradually implemented throughout the country was invented by Cai Lun, people call this kind of paper “Cai Hou Paper蔡侯纸”.

Cai Lun: Inventor of Papermaking 蔡伦

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