Great Contributions of China

Topics: Han Dynasty, China, Silk Road Pages: 4 (1125 words) Published: August 22, 2011
Great Contributions of China

In this essay I will be introducing some of the many inventions for which we owe thanks to early Chinese cultures. The developments that came from the early Chinese range from small to great, but none are by far insignificant. Many scientists debate how much of Western science was actually influenced by the Chinese, but one thing for sure is that the ideas that did originate there are incredible. One could even argue that without their ingenuity, you and I would not be exchanging ideas in the very manner we are now.

With that being said, paper is one of the greatest creations we can trace back to the Chinese. Evidence from archaeological records proves that paper was used in China prior to the first century AD. An efficient, cellulose-based paper was invented by Cai-Lun, and it began with the bark of trees being put into a pot of boiling water, boiled and transformed into a malleable material, then spread out and dried much like today’s technique (Sayre, 2011, p.226). It was actually first used as a wrapping material, but eventually replaced other writing mediums such as bamboo, silk and wood (Becker, 2005). Cai-Lun went on to use a variety of other materials including hemp and rags, and this advancement enabled literacy in China to develop much more quickly than the West (Sayre, 2011, p.226).

Before paper, but even more so after its invention, a writing system had developed and was improved upon that would forever change history. The creation of characters to represent ideas, which began as calligraphy, has been credited to two different legendary heroes of China: Fu Xi, is said to have invented the writing system with inspiration from constellations and animal footprints (Sayre, 2011, p.214), and Cangjie, who lived during the 27th century BC and is rumored to have four eyes and eight pupils, composed the Chinese characters to replace the old “rope knot tying” method of recording information (Cultural China, 2010)....

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Sayre, H. (2011). The humanities: Culture, Continuity & Change, Volume I (2nd Ed.). (2011 Custom Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
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