Ancient Chinese “Book”

by Jimmie Lanley on August 8, 2007

For our study of Ancient China, we made an ancient book. You may have noticed it in the ancient China lapbook pictures if you visited that Flickr set. Here’s Sprite holding it for you to see.


Paper was invented in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). But before the invention of paper, books were made with strips of bamboo tied together with strings. Then the books could be rolled up like a scroll.

I thought, well, that sounds easy enough. I’ve seen replicas of these during my time in China. We could do that. We used popsicle sticks instead of bamboo. [grin]

Here’s a step by step of how we did it.

1. I gathered an exacto knife, a cutting board, wooden craft sticks, a ruler, and a pencil.


2.  I measured about one cm from the top of the sticks on both tips and marked it lightly.
3.  My next step was to cut notches where I’d drawn the line. I used a marker here to make it clear for you.

This is for the adult to do, obviously.


4. Then DD tied the sticks together with rafia, making sure the rafia fit into the grooves I’d cut. Twine or jute would work well too. But we had rafia.

5. Lastly Sprite wrote Chinese characters on the sticks going up and down.
Well, some of her characters are a bit creative. Chinese people may not recognize them. But to you it looks great, right? It looks just like Chinese characters!

PS We used wire first. What a disaster. It was pink, and it wasn’t flexible enough to hold together. DD kept saying, “Mom, ancient books did not have pink wire holding them together.” Okay, okay, she was right. The wire was a terrible idea. Don’t use wire. Use something natural — twine or string.

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