On This Day
868 – A copy of the Diamond Sutra is printed in China, making it the oldest known dated printed book.
The Diamond Sūtra (Sanskrit: Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra) is a Mahāyāna (Buddhist) sūtra from the Prajñāpāramitā sutras or ‘Perfection of Wisdom’ genre. Translated into a variety of languages over a broad geographic range, the Diamond Sutra is one of the most influential Mahayana sutras in East Asia, and it is particularly prominent within the Chan (or Zen) tradition, along with the Heart Sutra.
A copy of the Tang-dynasty Chinese version of the Diamond Sūtra was found among the Dunhuang manuscripts in 1900 by Daoist monk Wang Yuanlu and sold to Aurel Stein in 1907. They are dated back to 11 May 868. It is, in the words of the British Library, “the earliest complete survival of a dated printed book.”
It is also the first creative work with an explicit public domain dedication, as its colophon at the end states that it was created “for universal free distribution.”
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Born On This Day
1905 – Lise de Baissac, Mauritian-born SOE agent, war hero (d. 2004)
Lise Marie Jeanette de Baissac MBE (11 May 1905 – 29 March 2004) was born in Mauritius of French descent and British nationality. She was a heroine of the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, a special agent who risked her life running her own operations; she was awarded several gallantry awards after the war.
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