The Four Great Chinese Inventions

1692 Words 7 Pages
Bhrajat Kampani
Chinese Culture


The Four Great Chinese Inventions (simplified Chinese: 四大发明)are creations or discoveries from ancient China that are distinguished and celebrated in Chinese culture for their historical significance. These inventions also become the symbols of ancient China 's advanced science and technology. There is no doubt that China held the world 's leading position in many fields in the study of nature, from the 1st century to the 15th century, with The Four Great Inventions having the greatest global significance.

The Four Great Inventions of ancient China refer to Paper, Gunpowder, Printing, and the Compass. The statement was first put forward by British Sinologist,
…show more content…
Unfortunately, there are some modern Chinese scholars have believed that there are other Chinese inventions were perhaps more sophisticated and had a greater impact on Chinese civilization. As in their opinion, the Four Great Inventions serve merely to highlight the technological interaction between Eastern and Western (Boruchoff, 2012)

China was the first country to discover paper, where this invention greatly contributed to the spread and development of civilization. Before this invention, words were written on numerous natural materials by ancient peoples. For instance, written on grass stalks by the Egyptians; written on earthen plates by the Mesopotamians; written on tree leaves by the Indians; written on sheepskin by the Europeans; and lastly written on bones, tortoise shells, bamboo or wooden strips, as well as shoulder blades of an ox by the early ancient Chinese (Deng, 2015).

After a while, as inspired by the process of silk reeling, the ancient Chinese succeeded in first making a kind of paper called "bo" out of silk. However, the quality was still far from satisfactory, and the cost of production was very expensive due to the scarcity of the
…show more content…
(early days of the 2nd century), a court official during the Eastern Han Dynasty named Cai Lun (also known as Tsai Lun); he invented a new kind of paper made from worn fishnet, bark, rags, wheat stalks, and other materials. These raw materials could be easily found at a much lower cost of production. The paper was also relatively light, thin, durable and more suitable for brush writing. Hence, large quantities of paper could be produced easily.

The making technique was exported to Korea in 384 A.D, then a Korean Monk took this skill with him to Japan in 610 A.D. During a war between the Tang Dynasty and the Arab Empire, the Arabs captured some Tang soldiers and paper making workers. Through the Arabs, Africans and Europeans then mastered the skill. In the 16th century, the skill was brought to America, and by the 19th century so many paper factories were set up in Australia. Thus, the papermaking had spread to all over the world (Needham, 1962).

In fact, because of this invention, Cai Lun was listed in the book "The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History", by Michael H. Hart.

Related Documents