China is undoubtedly the most innovative nations of the world known for its technology, culture, and the leading edge creations that are totally out of the box. It is time to celebrate the Chinese contributions to world civilization and thank them for making the life easy out there. The way this nation has looked at the things and the way they have embraced the life is an inspiration to many. We have legendary examples like Jack Ma of Alibaba Group, Bruce Lee, Sun Tzu, and the list goes on and on.
I would like to quote Swami Sivananda here which exactly connotes the stature of China – “ Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.”
10 Chinese contributions to world civilization
#1 Paper Making
Today, can we imagine life without a paper? Yes, there was a time when our ancestors used bamboo, stones, wood, and animal bones as writing materials which were cumbersome, and expensive thing to do. Thanks to Cai Lun for inventing this magic called Paper in 105 AD. This technology was then transferred to Korea, Vietnam, and then to Japan in the 3rd century. If the world has considered Cai Lun in one among the 100 influential people in human history then there is a reason. This invention has not only made our life simple but it played a huge role in the cultural advancement of China and the World in terms of literature & literacy.
#2 Gun Powder
It was 9th Century when the Chinese alchemist found this in search for an elixir of immortality, China didn’t anticipate that it will be used to develop guns and cannons. China primarily used gun powder which is a chemical combination of Potassium Nitrate, Sulphur, and Charcoal to prepare fireworks. Later on, it went to West which took the form of Guns, Missiles, and Cannons. It is so ironical that the same gunpowder helped West to dominate China in the 1800s.
One of the remarkable inventions of China is Printing. Bi Sheng invented this for the first time in 1040 AD which was made of baked clay. In around 13th century, Wang Zhen made the movable type made of wood and then in the 14th century Hua Sui invented the metal movable type. It is this effort of China which is helping us today to produce, exchange, and share the information in the most effective way.
You should believe that China has used first magnetic direction finder in late 1044. The credit goes to Zheng He who made 7 naval expeditions which helped to detail the needle positions given in the Mao Kun map. This invention is significant as it aided to explore the oceans of the world and make trades possible. It is the same compass which was used to discover the new worlds (America in 1492, and others).
China witnessed the discovery of the first machine to identify and measure the earthquake and the possibilities of it. The first seismograph had a container with eight dragons and a metal ball placed below.
It is said that Chinese have been cultivating tea from centuries. By the 18th century, Europeans had developed the quench for Chinese tea and they have loved it so much that they started exporting it from China by spending thousands of pounds of silver.
Pliny, the Roman Historian writes in his Natural History in 70BC that “ Silk was obtained by removing the down from the leaves with the help of water.” It is said that for more than 2000 years the Chinese had kept this secret of silk and this is one of the most guarded secrets in the world history. Hsi-Ling-Shih, wife of Yellow Emperor who ruled China in 3000 BC is credited with the introduction of silkworm cultivation and the invention of the loom.
Around 2000 years ago, Chinese developed this ceramic material called Porcelain which then spread to other Easter Asian Countries, Europe, and to the rest of the world. (For more information about this you can refer Wikipedia)
#9 Blast Furnace
It is said that during the rule of Han Dynasty of China (1st century AD) there was the usage of extant blast furnaces. In 31AD an Engineer by name Du Shi enhanced it and applied the power of waterwheels to piston bellows to produce cast iron.
As it is mentioned above the Chinese used Gunpowder to make these firework materials. The history dates back to some 2000 years and the story behind this quite interesting. The invention of fireworks was a beautiful accident when a Chinese cook happened to mix charcoal, sulfur, saltpeter to see an explosion. There are so many theories around this and the historians also give credits to India, Li Tian (Chinese monk), Song dynasty (960-1279), and others.
So, these were some of the Chinese Contributions to World Civilization which are truly mesmerizing. If you know or read about the other Chinese inventions and discoveries then please contribute your words in the comment below.
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Feature Image Credits – InsiderJourney