Bamboo and Wooden Slips (Chinese Bamboo Book)
About the bamboo book
In the history of Asia, there is a kind of book that plays a vital role as a turning point in cultural revolution, which was bamboo and wooden slips. Bamboo and wooden slips were the main media for documents in China before the widespread introduction of paper during the first two centuries AD. Early text engraved on the bones of animals or cuprous bells, because of material limitations, it is difficult to spread widely, so until the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC - 1046 BC), there were only hundreds of people who mastered the texts, which greatly limits the spread of culture and ideas , All this until the appearance of bamboo slips just to changed.
Narrow strips of wood or bamboo typically carry a single column of brush-written text each, with space for several tens of complex ancient Chinese characters. For longer texts, many slips may be bound together in sequence with thread. Each strip of wood or bamboo is said to be as long as a chopstick and as wide as a pair. The earliest surviving examples of wood or bamboo slips date from the 5th century BC during the States period of China. However, references in earlier texts surviving on other media make it clear that some precursor of these Warring States period bamboo slips was in use as early as the late Shang period (from about 1250 BC). Bamboo or wooden strips were the standard writing material during the Han dynasty and excavated examples have been found in some great numbers.
Subsequently, paper began to displace bamboo and wooden strips from mainstream uses, and by the 4th century AD bamboo had been largely abandoned as a medium for writing in China. The custom of interring books made of the durable bamboo strips in royal tombs has preserved many works in their original form through the centuries. An important early find was the Jizhong discovery in 279 AD of a tomb of a king of Wei, though the original recovered strips have since disappeared. Several caches of great importance have been found in recent years. In modern China or modern Asian world, bamboo slips are mostly used for decoration instead of books.
Process of Making the book
Making a Bamboo book is not simple. First, cut off the green bamboo tube and roast it, let the tube "sweat", which is dehydration, this process is to prevent future deformation and easy to write. Second, use ink to write with brush on each slips. Nowadays people normally don’t use ink to write on slips anymore, replaced by laser engraving or hand crafting. Third, use thread to bind them one by one. There are two types of binding for bamboo slips, one is just tie them by hand without drilling any holes on bamboo slips, the other one is drill holes on two sides of each slips and then use thread insert into it for a stronger hold. Lastly, people roll all the slips together into a round column for an easy carry and store.
There are some short videos about this book and the making process of bamboo slips below.