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Diamond Sutra (868)

Image from the Diamond Sutra

Diamond Sutra. Cave 17, Dunhuang, ink on paper
British Library Or.8210/P.2
Copyright © The British Library Board
A high-quality version of this image can be purchased from British Library Images Online. For more information email imagesonline@bl.uk

The world's earliest dated printed book was found in a cave 1907 by the archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein in north-west China. It had been hidden near Dunhuang on the Silk Road, with thousands of manuscripts and printed items. It is the earliest example of block printing to bear a date: 'the 13th of the fourth moon of the ninth year of Xiantong' (i.e. 11 May, 868). A central text of Indian Buddhism, the Diamond Sutra was first translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in about AD 400.

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