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Four great inventions of ancient China

Four great inventions of ancient China

Four great inventions of ancient China — in the eponymous book by the famous researcher of Chinese culture, Joseph Needham was christened invented in the Middle ages, paper, printing, gunpowder and the compass. These discoveries contributed to the fact that many areas of culture and arts, previously available only to the rich, become the property of the masses. Inventions ancient China made possible long distance travel, which allowed to open new land. Thus, we consider each of them in chronological order.

The invention of ancient China No. 1 — paper

The first great invention of ancient China is considered to be paper. According to the Chinese annals of the Eastern Han dynasty, paper was invented by the court eunuch of the Han dynasty — Cai LUN in 105 ad

In ancient times in China before the advent of writing paper used in scrolls twisted strips of bamboo, silk scrolls, wooden and clay tablets, etc., the Most ancient Chinese texts or “saguling” was found on tortoise shells that date back to the 2nd Millennium BC (Shang dynasty).

In the THIRD century, paper was already widely used for writing instead of more expensive traditional materials. Developed by Cai LUN technology of paper production consisted of the following: boiling a mixture of hemp, mulberry tree bark, old fishing nets and fabrics were turned into pulp, after which it was ground to a homogeneous paste-like condition and mixed with water. The mixture was loaded sieve in a wooden frame made of reeds, scooped a mass of sieve and shaken, the liquid glass. In the sieve formed a thin and even layer of the fiber.

This mass was then overturned on a smooth Board. Board castings are put one on another. Linked stack and placed on top of the cargo. Then the hardened and became strong under the pressure of the leaves were removed from the boards and dried. Manufactured by this technology sheet of paper was easy, smooth, durable, less yellow and more comfortable for writing.

The invention of ancient China No. 2 printing

The appearance of the paper, in turn, led to the appearance of printing. The oldest known example of printing using wooden blocks is a Sutra in Sanskrit, printed on hemp paper between 650 and approximately 670 years B. C. However, the first book printed with the standard size should be made during the Tang dynasty (618-907) Diamond Sutra. It consists of scrolls with a length of 5.18 m. According to the researcher of traditional culture of China Joseph Needham, the methods that were used in the calligraphy of the Diamond Sutra, exceed in perfection and sophistication miniature Sutra printed earlier.

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Patterned fonts: statesman and scholar-a scholar of China Shen Ko (1031-1095) first described a method of printing using stacked font in his “Notes on the stream of dreams” in 1088, attributing this innovation to the unknown master Bi Sheng. Shen To describe the technological process of production of liter of clay, the process of printing and production of typesetting fonts.

Bookbinding technique: the Emergence of printing in the ninth century has drastically changed the technique of the weave. At the end of the Tang dynasty book of curled scrolls of paper turned into a pile of leaves, resembling a modern brochure. Later in the song dynasty (960-1279) sheets of steel bent in the center, making a bandage of the type “butterfly”, why the book has already acquired the look of a modern. The yuan dynasty (1271-1368) have introduced the spine of hard paper, and later in the Ming dynasty. the leaves began to flash thread.

Printing in China has made a great contribution to the preservation of the centuries to shape the rich culture.

The invention of ancient China # 3 — gunpowder

It is believed that gunpowder was developed in China in the X century. Initially it was used as stuffing in incendiary shells, and was later invented gunpowder shells of explosive action. Powder barreled weapon, according to the Chinese annals, was first used in battle in 1132. It was a long bamboo tube, which was laid gunpowder and then ignited. This “flamethrower” to the enemy were inflicted severe burns.

A century later, in 1259, was first invented a gun that shot bullets — thick bamboo tube, which was placed a charge of gunpowder and bullets.

Later, at the turn of 13-14 centuries in China spread metal guns, loads of stone balls.

In addition to the military, the powder is actively used in everyday life. So, gunpowder was considered a good disinfectant in the treatment of ulcers and wounds in time of epidemics, and also used it for baiting insects.

However, perhaps the most “colourful” invention that came through the creation of gunpowder, are the fireworks. In China they had a special meaning. According to ancient belief, evil spirits are much afraid of bright light and loud sound. Therefore, since ancient times in Chinese New year there was a tradition in the courts of bonfires made from bamboo, which hissed in the fire, and burst with a Bang. And the invention of propellant charges, of course, scared of the “evil spirits” is not a joke — because by the power of sound and light, they are much superior to the old method. Later, Chinese craftsmen began to create multicolored fireworks by adding powder of various substances.

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Today fireworks have become an indispensable attribute of New year celebrations in almost all countries of the world.

The invention of ancient China # 4 — compass

inventions of ancient China
Inventions of ancient China: Chinese compass Model of a Han dynasty
The first prototype of the compass is believed to have appeared during the Han dynasty (202 BC — 220 ad) when the Chinese began to use magnetic iron ore, oriented North-South. However, it was used not for navigation, but for fortune telling. In the ancient text “Longan”, written in the 1st century BC, in Chapter 52 an ancient compass is described as: “This instrument resembles a spoon, and if you put it on the plate, its handle will point South.”

Description of a magnetic compass to determine cardinal directions first set out in the Chinese manuscript “Uczen, Zunyao” 1044 Compass works on the principle of the residual magnetization of the heated steel and iron ingots that were cast in the shape of a fish. The latter was placed in a bowl of water, and as a result of induction and residual magnetization appeared weak magnetic force. In the manuscript, it is mentioned that this device was used as an index of the course in conjunction with the manual “the chariot, which indicates the South.”

A better design of the compass has proposed the already mentioned Chinese scientist Shen Ko. In his “Notes on the stream of dreams” (1088), he described the magnetic declination, that is, the deviation from the direction to true North and the magnetic compass needle. To use the compass for navigation was first proposed by Zhu Yu in the book “table talk, Ninjo” (1119).


In addition to the four great inventions of ancient China, craftsmen of the middle Kingdom gave our civilization the following utility: Chinese horoscope, drum, bell, crossbow, violin Erhu, the Gong, the martial arts “Wushu”, health qigong, fork, noodles, steamer, chopsticks, tea, soy cheese, tofu, silk, paper money, nail Polish, toothbrush bristle, toilet paper, a kite, a gas cylinder, table game, playing cards, porcelain and more.

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