Diamond Sutra, the World’s Oldest Dated Printed Book

Last Modified: Fri May 13 2016 14:34:10 GMT+0530 (India Standard Time)
  • 1,100
    years ago the Diamond Sutra was printed in China, making it the oldest known printed book.
  • 11-May-868
    The book was commissioned to be printed by Wang Jie a resident of China's Xiantong province. No one is sure who Wang Jie was or why he had The Diamond Sutra printed.
  • 17.5
    feet long, the length of the scroll of the sacred Buddhist text. Today, that scroll is housed at the British Library and is acknowledged as the oldest dated printed book in existence.
  • 6,000
    Number of words contained in The Diamond Sutra and is part of a larger canon of “sutras” or sacred texts in Mahayana Buddhism. Many practitioners believe that the Mahayana Sutras were dictated directly by the Buddha, and The Diamond Sutra takes the form of a conversation between the Buddha’s pupil Subhati and his master.
  • 40,000
    scrolls and documents were hidden in “The Cave of a Thousand Buddhas,” a secret library sealed up around the year 1,000 when the area was threatened by a neighboring kingdom. The Diamond Sutra was one of them.
  • 1,900
    The year in which the text was originally discovered by a monk in Dunhuang, China, an old outpost of the Silk Road on the edge of the Gobi Desert.
  • 1,907
    The year in which British-Hungarian archaeologist Marc Aurel Stein was on an expedition mapping the ancient Silk Road when he heard about the secret library. He bribed the abbot of the monastic group in charge of the cave and smuggled away thousands of documents, including The Diamond Sutra.