The traditional watermark woodcut targeting image reproduction and the modern waterprint woodcut based on artistic originality. The watermark woodcut arose with the engraving printing technique in the Sui and Tang dynasties and declined with the recession of the traditional printing industry in the late Qing dynasty. Waterprint woodcut appears in the 1930s and has continued until the present times. The two classes of prints have different functions, resulting in different forms of output. The watermark woodcuts are mainly industrialized image productions that have a broad social application, while waterprint woodcuts are mostly personal pure artistic creation for aesthetic purposes only
Cover: Broken stone tablets with classics engraved in Xi ping, East Han dynasty
Before the invention of paper and printing, humans had learned to use the pre-print reproduction technology of seal to signet on soil or cloth. The most typical examples were seal, seal and pottery — the comprehensive utilization of these duplicating techniques directly enlightened on the origin of engraving printing.
The history of using seals in China can be traced back to the Shang dynasty. In some respects, seals carry more significance than direct signatures and even considered as a symbol of status and identity. For example, the imperial jade seal and the official seals of authority. In the period when the bamboo slips were used as writing materials, particularly used for important official documents or private letters, the slips were folded, covered with a blank cover which typically outlined relevant names, official positions, locations, and finally rope-tied. Sticky mud was placed at the knot of the tie before the signet sealed the clay. After the clay dried and consolidated, it would be labeled as the sealing clay. Following the invention of paper, sealing clay gradually evolved into "sealing paper," that is, to prevent forgery by signet at the seams of the written texts, or signet at the seals of paper envelopes containing documents.
The Mud Seal, Han Dynasty, 200 BC
During the Warring States period, there was a kind of "Image Seals," which is a branch of seals which changed the content from texts to patterns. There are two phoenix-shaped seals, one is round and the other square, in the Western Zhou dynasty according to The collections of ancient seals, which shows its early origin. Huang Binhong declared in his article The Impression of Dragon and Phoenix Seals: "Han seals are characterized by four predominant images: the Azure Dragon, the Whiter Tiger, the Vermillion Bird and the Black Tortoise carved on the sides of the seal". Zhang Yingwen mentioned in his "Secret Collection of Qing dynasty" that the Han dynasty seals have "birds, dragons, tigers, double Chi, mushrooms" and other concepts. This kind of seal has a profound pattern characteristic and requires specialized knife-carving skills. Wang Bomin analogized Han seals as the oldest "print sketch" in China.
Image Seal of Dragon, The Warring States 12X12mm
At the same time that seals started to become extensively used, another image reproduction technology known as "rubbing" emerged. Rubbing refers to the method of laying paper on the surface of stones, metals, bones or other hard materials engraved with texts and pounding it to press the paper within the engraved area. Ink is then appplied and the paper is rubbed to get white texts or images with black backgrounds. This technology is archaic yet practical because it accurately reproduces the original image. Therefore, this kind of technology is still universally accepted, and artists are frequently applying rubbing technique in modern printmaking creations.
The practice of inscribing stones to commemorate military victories or significant achievements began in a very early period of China’s history. In the Spring and Autumn period of China, 8th century BC, the stone epigraphs of the Qin dynasty were inscribed on ten drum-shaped stone piers, one poem per drum, called the inscriptions of stone drums. From the Han dynasty onwards, stone epigraphs developed further. First of all, the carving stones changed from drum-shaped piers to rectangular-shaped stone tablets which are easy to inscribe and read. Secondly, the inscriptions no longer restricted to commemorating the important warfare events or accomplishments of emperors, but to record Confucian classics. In the Eastern Han dynasty, people used paper to transcribe Confucian classics, but because of alternate original texts or writing errors, there were various literary inconsistencies. In order to make Confucian classics a uniform and standardized text, in 175 AD, Cai Yong suggested that the standard version of Confucian classics should be engraved on stone tablets for scholars to study, which was approved by the state. In addition to the stone carvings of Confucian classics, Buddhism began to spread in China in the Eastern Han dynasty, and Buddhist believers began to engrave sutras on stone tablets. Because of the calibrations by first-class academics, these stone scriptures became the examples for the study of classics by scholars. However, the long distances covered by the young Confucian scholars to travel to and from the capital took a long time and effort to copy scriptures by hand. Therefore, since the late Han dynasty, when the stone scriptures were unguarded, the scriptures were rubbed onto paper for personal use or sold as commodities, leading to the wide circulation of the scriptures.
Rubbing technology has gradually improved over the centuries. The craftsmen in charge of rubbing tablets in the Tang dynasty are called the text rubbers, who work alongside highly skilled copiers, dyers and pen-crafters in departments such as the Imperial College and the Secretary Departments. Since the Song dynasty, rubbing technology has been profoundly improved, not only applied to bronze inscriptions, but also the engravings of ceramics, bones and other objects. It has become an exquisite art form specializing in making duplicates of objects. "It ingeniously and precisely reproduces the exceptional pictures and texts engraved on objects made by various materials, and the effect is even greater than photography". Technically, the principle of stone tablets rubbing is very similar to engraving printing, except the engraved materials and printing methods are different, but this is undoubtedly a path towards the engraving printing.
Before the invention of engraving printing, image replication technology was applied not only on papers but also on textile printings. Among cultural relics unearthed in Guangzhou in 1983, were two copperplate reliefs and some silk fabrics with patterns. One of the silk fabrics has the same design as the relief printing plate. The History of Dyeing and Weaving in China, written by Wu Shusheng and Tian Zibing, describes ancient textile printing: "The relief printing technology developed in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, then reached an outstanding level in the Western Han dynasty". Among the cultural relics of the Western Han dynasty unearthed in Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan province in 1972, there were several pieces of printed gauze and gold-silver printed yarn. One of them was painted with cinnabar, lead white, sericite and carbon black, which also have vine patterns with clear and smooth lines on the base of the picture. This product is a combination of relief printing and color painting technology which exclusively revealed that as early as 2000 years ago, before the Western Han dynasty, Chinese artisans had mastered the technique of multicolor relief overprinting.
Besides using engraved relief printing, at the same time, there is another kind of carved leakage printing technology called the "hollowed plate". The leakage printing is an ancient printing method before the invention of block printing. The plates used for leakage printing are usually carved into hollowed gaps on different materials according to the designed patterns. While printing, the leakage plates are placed on the substrates and scratched with a scraper or brush. Among the cultural relics of the Western Han dynasty unearthed in Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan province, there are similarly colored patterns of "mud printing with gold and silver" and "colorful printing", which are exquisite in texture and elegant in color. According to Pan Jixing, “If textile printing and dyeing technology is used for paper printing and dyeing, such as wallpaper, it becomes the block printing technique, so the difference is just the material and method”.
Hunting Scene, Tang dynasty（618-907 AD）Silk print fragments，Discovered in Xin Jiang,42X29cm
Fabrics printed by "hollowed plates" are made of textiles and dyes for decoration and aesthetic appreciation. However, the purpose of using paper and ink for block printing is to propagate ideas and culture by producing reading materials. If we use the textile printing technology to make relief printing plate or hollow printing plate and change the pattern into other pictures, such as Buddha statues and use this technology to print on the paper, then it typically was manifested in religious works of engraving printing. As long as we take the paper as the printing material, we can easily accomplish this transformation. There are also Buddha statues from the Tang dynasty printed in relief and hollowed plates unearthed in the Dunhuang sarcophagus, and comparable printed materials unearthed in Turpan, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Li Pingfan, a famous printmaker in China, believes that "This kind of discovery proves that before the invention or popularization of papermaking technology in China, folk artists already began to apply craft printmaking methods to textiles. The application of this kind of printmaking technique can be described as the original style of Chinese watermark prints".
Paper and Ink
Papermaking technology was invented in China. It is difficult to consider another invention that is of equal or more significance to the course of human civilization. Society and civilizations have evolved a great deal thanks to the advent of computers, smartphones and mass communication. But modern technologies cannot replace the fundamental and perpetual functions of paper and printing. Paper is valuable due to its low cost and light texture, and its uncountable applications in society, such as books, packaging, paper clothes, quilts, paper fans, paper-cut, paper umbrellas and so on. According to archaeological excavation, paper first appeared in the Han dynasty. Furthermore, after Cai Lun's improvement of paper-making technology, the quality of paper in the late Eastern Han dynasty significantly improved and then witnessed the emergence of mass production techniques in the Eastern Jin dynasty.
Following a series of innovations, paper gradually replaced bamboo and silk as a standard writing material. After a period of combined usage of paper, ink, pen and inkstone, writing and painting eventually developed into a unique art form. Most of the earliest existing paper-scrolls were made with "Liu He paper", a type of paper produced in Liu He district of Nanjing, in the third century AD. For example, the Buddhist sutras of Bi Yu in the first year of Ganlu (Reign title of Wei) in the Three Kingdoms period (256 AD), is one of the earliest manuscripts. "Liu He” paper is a compound of fibers made of hemp, tarpaulin, rags and fishnet. Mi Fu, a painter of the Song dynasty, once mentioned that "Liu He Paper" originated from the Jin dynasty and was developed in the Song dynasty.
Paper provides the most elementary material carrier for the invention of printing technology. In order to print clear images and texts on engraved hardwood plates, people must use flexible substrates with a certain standard of smoothness and water absorption. From a world perspective, China is not the first country to produce and use seals. The Sumerians probably made cylinder seals in 3500 BC. They engraved texts on the cylinder and rolled it on wet clay, which transfers written concepts on the seal to the clay boards. The Harappa inscription seals, which appeared in 2600 BC, in ancient India were able to imprint repeatedly on wet clay. So why was printing first invented in China, which produced and used seals later? The principal reason is that paper was invented and used by the Chinese people first. Without the invention of paper, perhaps the early Chinese would have been limited to stamping seals on the mud like the Sumerians. Technically, papyruses and parchments cannot be defined as authentic papers, but processed products of plant fiber and animal leather. "Paper is purified and dispersed by the physical processes and chemical actions of plant fibers —— Its seriflux drains on the porous mold and forms a wet fiber layer, which coalesces into thin sheet material after drying".
In the Tang dynasty and the Five Dynasties period, ancient printmaking typically used linen paper, including white linen paper and jute paper, as well as a small amount of leather paper and bamboo paper. The surface of linen paper is relatively smooth, ink-absorbed, flexible and rigid. Linen papers made of hemp, broussonetia and mulberry fibers in the Tang dynasty are "excellent productions, consistent thickness, no fine holes or markings on the surface and suitable for gluing". The paper used in the Diamond Sutra, which was first published during the Tang dynasty according to reliable chronology, is hemp paper, with a flat and smooth surface, its fibers are interwoven tightly and firm with light skin color, rich in nostalgia and aesthetic perceptions。
Since the Song dynasty, the popularization and broad application of printing have stimulated the development of papermaking technology. Paper made from bamboo and grass fibers has been universally applied in literature printing. Paper-making and engraving centers sprung up in regions such as Kaifeng, Chengdu, Xuancheng, Hangzhou and Jianyang, where an abundance of official and private publications were produced.
In the Song and Yuan dynasties, bamboo paper was chiefly used in the printing of conventional reading materials, while exquisite books adopted leather paper. These papers made of Broussonetia as the main material are white, smooth and easy to be inked, with fewer bundles and even interweaving of fibers, fine curtain lines and natural texture aesthetics. Furthermore, these papers have the same anti-moth properties and longevity as linen paper. Hence the saying goes: "The fine print of the Song and Yuan dynasties is not only beautiful in calligraphy but also extraordinary in the paper". Among them, the best quality is "cotton paper" made of bamboo produced in Yongfeng, Jiangxi province, which is white and stable, followed by "letter paper" produced in Changshan, Zhejiang province, which is thick and silky, and then "book paper" produced in Shunchang, Fujian province.
Following the Song dynasty, the quality of paper significantly improved and the cost of papermaking was significantly reduced due to the rapid improvements in papermaking technology. Therefore, the paper used for books or prints characteristically have a light, soft and delicate texture. The essential raw materials for papermaking are bamboo and Broussonetia, sometimes mixed with straw or other plant fibers. These papers are thin and flexible, with a smooth and bright surface, less cellulose, and beautiful curtain lines and good ink receptivity. For example, the paper used in the Song dynasty editions are "antique and extremely thin, which does not decay" and has obvious curtain lines. Because the ancient books were printed on one side, then folded into a pair of pages and bound into a book, if the paper is thick, the book will be thicker accordingly, which occupies more volume and subsequently increases the cost .
Based on the technical foundation of Song and Yuan dynasties, the paper-making technology of Ming and Qing dynasties accessed the summative development stage of traditional paper-making technology. The paper-making materials, technology, equipment and processing technology captured the improvements from the preceding eras, leading to steady advances in the production, quality, origin and application of paper. At this time, "Xuande Paper" made of Jiangxi Broussonetia and the “Jingxian Paper" made of green wingceltis in Jingxian county, Southern Anhui province, are the most famous papers, which surpassed the quality of the historically well-known "Chengxintang Paper" and "Jinsujian Paper". These papers are comparatively soft, highly-absorbent, smooth, with stable and elastic properties, and particularly suitable for printing and painting. Additionally, paper for printmaking, especially for color printmaking, demands superior ink-absorption and osmosis properties, such as the "Luo Xuanbian manual of painting and calligraphy” and "Ten bamboo studio manual of painting and calligraphy" from the Ming dynasty. These were printed on Huangjin Paper, which to this day is still white and permeated with ink incense.
Ink is an indispensable medium for writing and printing, which is a kind of pigment formed by mixing and pressuring the soot and glue. As early as the Neolithic Age, more than 6000 years ago, humans were using natural graphite for paints and decorations. According to archaeological discoveries, there were ink elements in bone, stone, pottery, bamboo, wood and silk paper from 14th century BC to 4th century AD, which was the earliest evidence of ink utilization in China.
Ink Making Method by Pinewoods From General History of Chinese Printing by Zhang Shudong et al
Ink was produced and used even earlier than paper. Bamboo slips of the Warring States Period had begun to be written in ink. The earliest documented usage of the word "ink" is attributed to Chuang-tzu: "King Songyuan wanted to draw a map, so all the painters came, kowtowed and expressed readiness to take orders. They soaked their brushes and adjusted the ink". Based on historical records, Chinese ink in the Qin, Han, Wei, Jin and Southern and Northern dynasties can be classified into: graphite, the ink made from petroleum combustion; lampblack, the ink made from the burning of oil or wood carbon crystals, and; pine-soot, the ink from burning of Pinewood, resulting in intense glossy properties.. The method of making lampblack ink is to burn the flammable candlewick in a pot filled with oil. The pot is covered with an iron lid or a funnel-shaped iron lid. When the iron lid or funnel-shaped lid is covered with smoke, it is scraped off and collected in a mortar, Gum is added, mixed and stirred to form a thick paste, and then shaped into an ink ball by hand, or placed in a mold and pressed into a particular shaped ink block. To obtain pine-soot ink, pinewood is burnt and the ashes gathered, then processed with cloves, musk, dry paint and glue. Zheng Zhong once said: "The sphered ink comes from pine smoke". In addition, Cao Zijian's poems: "The pine smoke forms the ink, the rabbit fur constitutes the brush" are both about the origin of pine-soot ink. Chinese ink is generally made into solidity and needs to be dipped in water in the inkstone and grinded to form an ink liquid. By adding different amount of water to the ink, people can get numerous shades of black and gray. Pictures drawn by top-grade ink artists have vibrant and bright layers. The ink varies from thick to light, which is called the ink can “split into five colors”. Some people also categorize the so-called "six colors of ink" as black, white, dry, wet, dense and light. "In Chinese literati paintings, according to Laozi's philosophy of simplicity and simplicity as beauty, the five or six colors of ink can completely replace the cinnabar and azurite". The advantage is that the color of ink lasts permanently, and its luster is dark. Some ancient paintings and books are still entirely fresh and vigorous today.
Ink occupies a prominent position in Chinese culture — not only a writing material but also as a valuable work of art. Since literati chiefly required the ink, their interest naturally influenced the ink-making technology. This resulted in the invention of ink molds which are similar to the engraving printing and the ink spectra that describes the ink-making process. In the belief of Chinese literati, ink is the embodiment of the literati mindset, determining ambition and conveying emotion. Thus, Chinese ink has formed a unique ink culture in long-term reform and development. Highlighting the importance of ink the Song dynasty was a legend that "A top-class ink stone is rarer than gold.". During the reign of Wanli in the Ming Wanli dynasty, Cheng Dayue, an ink-making master, once boasted that "My ink will be more precious than gold in a hundred years". Dong Qichang said: "A century later, there will be no Cheng Junfang but his inkstones, and a millennium later, there will be no Cheng Junfang's inkstones but the name of the inkstone"
Printing ink is different from the ink for painting and calligraphy. According to Qian Cunxun, "The ink for book printing is made by the thick smoke powder scraped from the first two sections of the smoke pipe while burning the pinewoods, mixed with glue and wine and stored in a vat for reserve. Printing ink must be stored for a minimum of three or four years so through the process of being repeatedly heated during the summer its odor will be eliminated prior to use. The longer the printing ink is stored, the better the printing effect.” Musk was added to the ink-making recipes in most dynasties to make ink fragrant and enhance the cultural aesthetic scent of publications and artwork. Therefore, some people say that the Song edition of classics smells aromatic, which is because of the fragrance from the ink. Other water-soluble printing pigments are botanical and mineral. Standard Chinese painting pigments chiefly are formulated by adding animal gum or Bletilla striata gum, such as cinnabar, gamboge and yellow lead. The color is either transparent and gorgeous or sedated and dignified. When water-soluble printing pigments mixed with water, different shades and gray levels disintegrate. Therefore, only one color block is sufficient to display the delicate gradient transition effect.
The Emergence of Engraving Printing
Following the Wei and Jin dynasties, with the flourishing of Buddhism and Taoism, seal technology had developed in two directions towards the engraving printing. One is the large-scale woodcut incantation made by Taoists, the other is the woodcut pictures carved by Buddhists. Ge Hong, a famous Taoist scholar in the Jin dynasty (284-368 AD), said in his work Baopuzi, the Inner Volume: "When the ancients entered the mountainous areas, they would carry an amulet called the seal of Yue Zhang and Huang Shen, which was about four inches long, had 120 words inscribed on it and sealed with clay, and the beasts dare not approach within a hundred steps". The size of this woodcut amulet is similar to modern letterheads and can be regarded as the first engraving printing in China.
Meanwhile, in order to spread the doctrine, Buddhists carved small statues of Buddha into wooden seals and printed them in ink on the top of the scroll or the Scripture to achieve the combination of pictures and texts. T.F. Carter recorded in The Invention of Printing in China and Its Spread Westward: "The stenciled tiny Buddha's statue represents transitional form from seal to woodcut. Thousands of such statues are found in Dunhuang, Turpan and other places in Xinjiang. Sometimes it appears at the beginning of each line of the book, and sometimes the entire scroll is filled by these Buddha statues. The British Museum houses a 17 inch long scroll that features four hundred and sixty-eight Buddha statues." The Buddha statue on this scroll was clearly manually printed. The purpose of this method of printing is that the same printing plate can get not only a copy of the text but also a more sophisticated copy of the image.
Thousand Buddha sutras Tang Dynasty（618-907 AD）Discovery in Dunhuang 40cm×39.5cm
Qian Cunxun believes that: "Printing is a method of making a plate out of inverse characters or pictures, and then print with ink (or other colors) on paper (or other surfaces) under pressure to obtain the text". Here Qian Cunxun emphasizes that it is a fundamental principle of the invention of printing to acquire the "main body" by the "mirror image". He also considers that "Whether it is traditional Chinese engraving or movable type printing, or western relief, intaglio or lithography, are all based on this principle". "An ingenious conception of the Chinese invention of printing should be a primary condition for everything to be printed". Qian’s view is consistent with the idea of Encyclopedia Americana published in 1980. Encyclopedia Americana defines printing as “the technology of reproducing text and pictures on paper, cloth or other surfaces. Although there are considerable differences in printing methods, printing typically involves the transformation process of mirrored characters from the plates or similar surfaces containing mirrored characters to printed materials".
Although there is no direct evidence that proves that engraving printing originated from seal or rubbing technology, we can nevertheless conclude that the method of engraving printing is intimately related with the stamping method of seals and the rubbing method of stone carvings. The use of seals requires two procedures, "engraving" and "printing", to obtain replicates of text and images. "Engraving" represents the plate making, which is to carve "printing plates" with copies of the pictures and texts; and "printing" indicates the process of obtaining copies of images and texts. The method of obtaining copies of pictures and texts is "stamping", which is to apply pressure to the "printing plate". The official wooden seals in Yongping period of the Eastern Han dynasty unearthed in Korea in 1925 can be regarded as small-scaled engraving printing. In other words, if the position of the printing plate of the stamped image of Buddha or text is reversed upward. The plate is inked first, and then covered with paper and print, then it becomes the engraving printing which lasts for thousands of years.
Ripe Conditions for Printing
The realization of engraving printing relies on a large number of factors. In addition to paper as the medium, the ink used in printing and engraving printing skills, the overall socio-economic condition, political system, spiritual and cultural life also greatly contribute to the demand for print. The most historically significant factor leading to the development of engraving printing technology is the need to produce religious propaganda. Religion is a cultural phenomenon which appears in a particular historical stage of the development of human society, which has a resolute social ideology, a wide range of social functions, and accompanied by common belief system and rituals. In order to increase readership among illiterate or unengaged communities, a tremendous amount of religious propaganda materials, particularly images, needed to be replicated throughout history. The earliest prints of the world are entirely religious in nature. For example, in October 1966, the Chinese print "The Great Dharani Sutra of Clarity and Purity" was discovered in the Buddhist Temple of Qingzhou, Korea, and the Sanskrit "Dharani Sutra Mantra" unearthed in a Tang dynasty tomb in Chengdu in 1944 are both generally acknowledged as the earliest existing prints in China. Thus, it is manifest that religious propaganda is one of the essential motivation to accelerate the development of printing.
Almost every ruler of each dynasty dominated the prevailing ideology of the time. They displayed their authority and merits, and through individual belief, unified social common faith, to realize the overall value of the society Therefore, the emperors attached exceptional emphasis to the proofreading and publishing of the Confucian classics. In 932, Feng Dao, a Grand chancellor of post-Tang dynasty, proofread the text of the Confucian classics carved on stone and obtained the original copy, which was employed for printing thereon. Besides the "Eleven Classics" which was already defined in the Tang dynasty, the "Five Classics" and "Nine Classics" were added to the text. In 953 AD, after about twenty-two years of production, 130 volumes of giant scrolls were printed, which is the first printing of Confucian classics as well as the beginning for the Imperial Academy to supervise the publication and the marketing of official books. This is regarded as an epoch-making event in the history of publishing. It not only marks the emergence of official editions but also points to when the method of engraving printing became the prevailing method of book production.
The use of engraving printing also reflects the reproduction of knowledge and the dissemination of culture. In the late Tang dynasty, there were printed books about Chinese characters and other popular books, such as physiognomy, fortune-telling and dream interpretation. By the Song dynasty, the printing industry published numerous scientific-technological and medical works, which created conditions for the popularization of science technology and medical knowledge in the Middle Ages in China. While western scholars were still holding limited and shabby ancient Greek scientific works on parchment or handwritten copies on papyrus, Chinese in the Song dynasty had already mastered various options, for example, the mathematical book Ten Computational Canons which conclude The Zhoubi Suanjing and The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art and engraved copies of ancient medical works like Qimin Yaoshu, Treatise on Cold Injury and Mai Jing. Moreover, in the second year of the Chongning period (1103 AD), the publication "Treatise on Architectural Methods and Standards" was the representative work of technical books. Its specific diagrams enabled future generations tounderstand the ancient architectural technology and related systems.
The Antique Collections in Xuanhe compiled and printed by Emperor Huizong in Song dynasty is a representative artifact catalog. Through its depiction, the future generations can understand a large number of ancient artifacts. There are more than thirty local chronicles of the Song dynasty that still exist today, mostly with illustrations. For example, The Chronicles of Xianchun Linan including maps of the royal palace, the capital city of Zhejiang province, West Lake, and others are the earliest urban maps of the Southern Song dynasty; The Chronicles of Jia Ding Chi City have the illustrations of Sa Jing and Luo Cheng; The Chronicles of Yong depicting the royal city, palace, ramparts, and landscapes. In the mid-Ming dynasty, the number of illustrated application class of books publishing increased. In the seventh year of Jingtai Ming dynasty (1456 AD), the imperial house published a block-printed edition called The Proper and Essential Things for the Emperor's Food and Drink; The Secret Prescriptions for Surgeries and From the Carving of Material Principles to the Record of the Origin printed in Tianshun period and Chenghua period respectively; The Chronicles of Que Li, The Chronicles of Wu Jiang, The Chronicles of Shi Hu printed in Hongzhi period. Meanwhile, many poetry collections applied illustrations as well. Some depict the author's image, and some others deduce the artistic conception of poetry.
Engraving printing is also widely used in popular literature. In order to open up the market, booksellers urge to add illustrations into their books to improve the artistry and interest, which launched a fierce market competition. Particularly for renowned operas, novels, picture albums, historical collections, interpretations, science and technology books, local chronicles, series of books, classified books, western works, ethnic literature and catholic books, virtually all include individually brilliant illustrations. Also, engraving printing is used in a large number of practical things such as money, cards, drinking orders and wallpapers. In the Song dynasty, engraving printing was not only used for printing books, it was also used for issuing cash to replace the traditional metal currency。