Wood; woodblock printing; A Mighty Text to Save the World (Jiushi hongwen 救世鴻文)
This paper explores the role of wood, a crucial material in East Asian print and manuscript culture, in East Asian traditions of knowledge in two parts. The first provides an overarching historical survey of wood in printing, contextualizing its use in conjunction with the West and the circumstances of its employment in the two main religious traditions of China – Daoism and Buddhism. The second introduces a late Qing woodblock from Yunnan of A Mighty Text to Save the World (Jiushi hongwen 救世鴻文), offering a voice from the Panthay Rebellion of 1856–1873 that would have otherwise been unpreserved. In light of this preservation, the paper ends with a consideration of surviving woodblocks as a source of lost narratives and how libraries may need to adapt to house these important materials.