Humanities: Culture, Continuity and Change
Dr. Ronald Gavin
May 28, 2012
Ancient Chinese Contributions
The world owes a lot to the Chinese for all the major contributions and innovations they introduced. For example, during the Era of Disunity (approx. 220-581 AD) the ancient Chinese invented kites, matches, umbrellas and much more ("Inventions," “n.d.”). The Yuan dynasty brought us paper money, blue and white porcelain and several other contributions ("Inventions," “n.d.”). The discovery of making gunpowder came from the Tang dynasty (200AD) ("Inventions," “n.d.”); the list goes on. The most significant contributions came from the Han dynasty (approx. 202 BC-220 AD) introducing moveable rudder and sails, cast iron technology, wheel barrow, and the hot air balloon ("Chinese culture," 2007-2011). More importantly, the Han dynasty brought to the world the manufacturing of paper, the compass and the production of Chinese silk ("contributions," 2003-2012). The four most ingenious or innovative contributions are paper, the compass, printing and silk. Europeans thought of Chinese silk as elegant and traders would pay the same weight in gold for this high commodity. Silk was traded along the “silk road”, another ancient Chinese innovation, which stretched from the Yellow River valley to the Mediterranean, nearly five thousand miles long (Sayre, 2011, p. 224). The silk road was the doorway to the spread of ideas, religions and technologies to the rest of the world. The ancient Chinese taught the world how to harvest silk from silk worms along with paper making, glass making and printing. The first printing technique put to use was block printing, a very lengthy process, from the ancient Tang dynasty. Much time and labor went into block printing, but once the carved block is finished, the advantages of high efficiency and large printing amount made it very worthwhile ("Chinese...