Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Cai Lun

Cai Lun (Wade-Giles Ts'ai Lun, 蔡倫 cai4 lun2) (? - 121), courtesy name Jingzhong (敬仲), was a Chinese eunuch who lived around AD 105. He is conventionally regarded as the inventor of paper.

He was born in Guiyang (桂陽) during the Eastern Han Dynasty, and became a paperwork secretary (中常侍) of Emperor Hedi. For papermaking, he tried materials like bark, hemp, and even fishing net. He was imprisoned (for an unrelated matter) and committed suicide in prison.

While paper is widely used worldwide today, the creator of this extremely important invention is little-known outside East Asia. Cai invented paper in AD 105. It immediately became widely used in China. In 751, some Chinese paper makers were captured by Arabs after Tang troops were annihilated in the Battle of Talas River. The techniques of paper making then spread to the West.