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Confucian Culture in Korea: Woodblocks for printing books

Call Number: MS Q70


The two woodblocks in this collection reflect the strong tradition of Confucianism in Korea during the reign of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). Both books are collections of Confucian writings and consist of Chinese texts rendered in Korean. Images of folio book pages printed from these woodblocks, downloaded from websites where the entire printed books can be viewed, have been printed out and are shelved with the collection.


  • Creation: 1867, circa 1910


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

History of Confucian woodblocks in Korea

The city of Andong, Korea, named as the place of publication of the earlier book in this collection, was the home of Korean Confucian academies that perpetuated the scholastic tradition of Confucianism through scholarship and education. Private groups preserved the learning of sages in books that covered a wide range of genres, including letters, daily journals, poems, and academic papers.

The columns of characters forming the text are carved in reverse on double-sided woodblocks, from which right-reading prints on paper could be made. The text on each page reads top down, right to left. Handles attached to the short sides of the rectangular woodblocks bear ink inscriptions identifying the book title, volume number, and folio (leaf) number. Each side of a woodblock yields a printed impression of two consecutive book pages on one sheet of paper that, folded in half, forms a single leaf or folio. The lettering in the center column separating each pair of pages identifies the book title, volume number, and folio (leaf) number. This information would facilitate the assembly and binding of the folded leaves (arranged to be read right to left) to form a volume.


2 items (2 oversize boxes) : Double-sided woodblock. In each case, the entire object measures 29 cm x 49 cm x 4 cm (handles) or 2 cm (woodblock). The rectangular border around the printing image measures 20 cm x 35 cm.

Language of Materials


Physical Location

MS Q70

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Laura Graffney, 2016.


  • Lee Sun-young. “Why Confucian printing woodblocks matter: Joseon-era woodblocks hold special place in world history, vie for UNESCO listing.” The Korea Herald, December 14, 2014. (accessed April 27, 2017).
  • Needham, Joseph. Science and Civilization in China, volume 5. Chemistry and Chemical Technology. Part 1. Paper and Printing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954-. Located at Watson Library at DS721 .N39


Guide to the Confucian Culture in Korea Collection: Woodblocks for printing books
Confucian Culture in Korea: Woodblocks for printing books
Finding aid prepared by ksc. Finidng aid encoded by mwh.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Confucian Culture in Korea: Woodblocks for printing books, MS Q70, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States