Woodcut, a type of relief printing, is the oldest printmaking technique, and the only one traditionally used in the Far East, in which knives and other tools are used to carve a design into the surface of a wooden block.
It was probably first developed as a means of printing patterns on cloth, and by the 5th century was used in China for printing text and images on paper. Woodcuts of images on paper developed around 1400 in Japan, and slightly later in Europe. These are the two areas where woodcut has been most extensively used purely as a process for making images without text.
See also: Woodcut process explained by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York