Chinese inventions

Paper, Printing press, Gun powder, Compass

As You know,  Paper, Printing press, Gun powder and Compass, are the four important ancient Chinese inventions which brought  important contributions to the progress of the universal civilization.


Just since the Shang dinasty (16-th century BC) in China appeared tortle shells and  animal bones on which various signs were engraved . Later the chinese bookish men wrote hierogliphs on bamboo and wood plates or on silk fabrics.  Only in 105 Year the inventor Chai Lun succeded in producing paper  using as raw materials  tree bark, hemp, rags, etc, by process technologies of cutting, mixing, boiling and drying .  Up to  3-th century the paper sorts range  was enlarged, the production increased and the raw materials  were diversified . At the beginning of the  7-th century the technique of making  paper spreaded to  Coreea and Japan  In the 8-th century said technique spreaded to The Arab world  and after that in European countries. During the industrial revolution in Europe in the last part of the 19-th century  the mechanized  manufacturing of paper based upon wooden materials knew a rapid development, gradually replacing the old technology based on the manual labour .


The invetion of printing press is closely linked to paper. Up to inventing paper  the drawing and writing had been engraved and multiplyied on stone plates and after the invention of paper they were  engraved on wooden plates and typed with Chinese ink. The  method was named  „printing  of engraving ”. Up to  8-th century this way of printing was very much used in China and spreaded  to Coreea, Japan, Vietnam, Phillipines, Iran and to the African and European countries. After the 11-th century together with the development of the forces of production many improvements  and  inventions were achieved  in the printing mode .  The most important of them is the invention  of Bi Sheng who created a new method of printing which based on galleys. According to historical documents,  by  Bi Sheng method firstly the characters were engraved on clay plates – each character on a little clay plate – which after passing the fire becomes something  like a  matter. For  typing, a sheet of paper and wax  is laid on an  iron plate on which there are placed in arrays the  galleys. After heating,   the wax is melted  and the signs adhere to the iron plate . That plate  is thereafter multyplied like a sculptured plate. Out of this method Bi Sheng tried also the method  of printing with wooden galleys which can be used more times increasing the books printing and difusing speed.



The invention of gun powder is probably the most famous chinese ancient discoveriy and the story tells that it would have been achieved  incidentally by alchemists when they tried to  create an Elixir of life.

Being an annex product  in the process of preparing medicinal substances, the experts consider that the gun powder  is closely linked to the method of preparing of panaceas  in ancient China.  In fact the gun powder is a mixture of sulfur, saltpetre and carbon,  sulfur and saltpetre being important ingredients in traditional Chinese pharmacology. The gun powder itself  take part of the category of medicamentous substances. The known work „” Medicinal herbs studies”  by  Li Shizhen notes that using the gun powder,  a certain dermic disease may be cured and one can kill the insects and remove the moisture. The gun powder was used for  military purposes only at the beginning of the 10-th century. On that time rudimentary guns already  appeared. In 12-th and 13-th centuries  the gun powder spreaded firstly to Arab countries and after that to European countries and to other parts  of the world.


The invention of compass is also a great contribution of China to the universal civilization. In the 4-th century The Chinese already used the compass which was named  Sinan. It was manufactured of a natural magnetic stone polished  as a spoon. But  Sinan had a less magnetic power.