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Posthumous Qing-dynasty depiction

Cai Lun (b. c. 50 – c. 62 CE; d. 121) was a Chinese eunuch court official traditionally regarded as the inventor of paper and the modern papermaking process, as he created paper in its modern form. Born in modern-day Leiyang, Cai served as chamberlain for Emperor Ming, and as imperial messenger for Emperor Zhang. To assist Lady Dou in securing her adopted son as designated heir, he interrogated Consort Song, who then killed herself. After Emperor He's ascension in 88 CE, Dou rewarded Cai with high office, where he remained despite He's purge of the Dou family in 92 CE. In 105 CE, Cai greatly improved the papermaking process with tree bark, hemp waste, old rags, and fishnets. After Lady Deng, the empress dowager, died in 121 CE, Cai was ordered to the Ministry of Justice because of his involvement in Song's death. Expecting execution, he killed himself instead. Cai's papermaking efforts are considered enormously impactful on human history. He is deified as the god of papermaking, and appears in Chinese folklore. (Full article...)

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