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Cai Lun was a politician and Chinese eunuch. He is famously known for inventing paper and the paper making process. He improved the standard on papermaking by adding new materials into the paper mix. Nowadays, Cai Lun’s technique is still generally used for the modern papermaking process.
See the fact file below for more information on the Cai Lun or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Cai Lun worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Cai Lun was born in Guiyang (now known as Leiyang, Hunan) around 50 AD. He lived during the reign of the Han Dynasty.
- In 75 C.E., Cai Lun began serving as a court eunuch – he was 25 years old. After receiving castration as a requirement to become a eunuch, he served under the rule of Emperor He.
- Cai Lun had a bright and promising career under Emperor He’s reign. In AD 89, Emperor He promoted him with the title of Shang Fang Si, an officer rank where he was charged with manufacturing instruments and weapons.
- He also became a paperwork secretary and a Regular Palace Attendant.
CAREER AND CONTRIBUTIONS
- In 105 A.D., Cai Lun presented the emperor his ways of making the paper. Before papers existed, it was common for royal members to do writings and inscriptions on tablets, bamboo slides, and metal. Other civilizations such as Egyptians and Greeks used papyrus, parchment, wood, and ostraka for their writing mediums.
- Cai Lun started to initiate the idea of creating a writing medium which is lighter and more practical. He made sheets of paper from inner bark of bamboo, mulberry trees, rags of cloth, and fishing nets. He mixed the composition with water, and after the mixture starts to soften, he poured the mixture onto a flat piece of woven cloth, draining the water, and dried the mix until it formed into a thin matted sheet.
- As a result, the thin sheets were much lighter and comfortable to be written on, making it very practical to be carried when the royals wanted to go places.
- His innovation made Emperor He was pleased and he granted Cai Lun many rewards and an aristocratic title. In 114 A.D., he was named as a marquess, a royal title similar to the British nobleman which ranks above an earl and below a duke.
- Cai Lun’s apprentice, Zuo Bo, later contributed to the essential improvements of the paper-making process. The process was later adopted throughout China and then spread to the rest of the world.
CAI LUN’S INVOLVEMENT IN PALACE INTRIGUE
- Cai Lun was involved in a palace intrigue between Empress Dou and her rival, Consort Song.
- The rival between Empress Dou and Consort Song began when Empress Dou wanted to remove the older son of Emperor Zhang, Liu Qing from the throne line, and replace the crown prince with her adopted son, Prince Zhao.
- Liu Qing was Consort Song’s son. In 82 A.D, Consort Song fell ill, and she craved raw Cuscuta, an herbal medicine. Consort Song’s illness was used by Empress Dou to falsely accuse Consort Song of using the Cuscuta for witchcraft.
- Cai Lun was a supporter of Empress Dou. He was responsible for arresting and interrogating the Crown Prince Qing and Consort Song.
- After the death of Empress Dou death in 97 A.D, Cai Lun becomes an associate with Consort Deng Sui.
DEATH AND LEGACY
- In 121 A.D., Emperor An stepped into the throne after Empress Deng’s death. As Consort Song’s grandson, he committed to punishing those responsible for the deaths and suffering of his grandmother and his father, Liu Qing.
- Cai Lun was commanded to report to the prison. Before he reported, he committed suicide by drinking poison after taking a bath.
- After Cai Lun death, his tomb was built at his estate, Dragon Pavillion Village, in the city of Leiyang, Hunan Province.
- According to Fei Zhu from the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 A.D), the people also build a temple for honoring Cai Lun in Chengdu. Many families involved in the papermaking industry traveled from far away and come to pay respects.
- Cai Lun’s tomb is now under state protection as a historic site. A memorial hall dedicated to Cai Lun was built and surrounded by a garden.
- Cai Lun’s innovation of paper made Leiyang, his hometown, be known as “Invention Square,” which was named by him as an act of honor.
- With the invention of paper, China could develop its culture through works of literature much faster than the first writing mediums (especially silk and bamboo plates).
- Paper achieved its immediate popularity around the world during the colonization period and the opening of the silk trade route.
- For example, the Arab soldiers captured some Chinese paper makers after defeating them in the Battle of Talas River. After learning from lessons from Chinese papermakers, the Arabian people could produce the first Arab paper in Samarkand. Thus, the production of paper quickly become popular and replaced the papyrus production in the Middle East and North Africa.
- In Asia, since the 600s A.D., China’s papermaking technique had spread to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. Paper was introduced to Europe in the 12th century. The widespread use of paper in Europe meant paper contributed to the foundation of the Scholastic Age.
- Cai Lun was ranked as 7th most influential figure in history according to the Michael H. Hart.
Cai Lun Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Cai Lun across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Cai Lun worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Cai Lun who was a politician and Chinese eunuch. He is famously known for inventing paper and the paper making process. He improved the standard on papermaking by adding new materials into the paper mix. Nowadays, Cai Lun’s technique is still generally used for the modern papermaking process.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Cai Lun Facts
- Patron of Papermaking
- Four Great Inventions
- Serving the Kingdom
- Papermaking Process
- Paper Distribution
- Writing Materials
- Compare the Three
- Paper Trivia
- Let’s Recycle
- Paper’s Products
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Link will appear as Cai Lun Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, October 14, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.