How Chinese Inventions Changed The World

August 8, 2008
By Jessi Hottois, Mt.Washington, KY

Life in 21st century Kentucky has been greatly shaped by many inventions that started in ancient china. If you’ve read a book or newspaper, viewed beautiful porcelain pottery, ate off chinaware,

or paid for something with a dollar bill then you have encountered only a few of china’s extraordinary inventions.
A history of porcelain

Porcelain was created in China in 600 A.D. during the Tang Dynasty. Porcelain is made by mixing white clay with ground petuntse, which is a variety of feldspar sometimes mixed with kaolin, and firing the vessels at 1,450 degrees F. over the years various types of pottery have been made with porcelain. There’s the Ting Kilns (left), which consist of a fine white body with an orange or reddish transparency. Ko Kilns (right), which has a glazed, texture with bubbles in layers and cracks on their major features and many more types. Oftenly these magnificent pieces of pottery around the world are called china or chinaware. The “golden age for this kind of pottery was during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). We Use pottery made from porcelain for decoration, plates, and other creative uses. People all over the world highly value porcelain for its beauty and strength.

What would we do Without Paper?

Is paper important? First let me talk about the history of paper. Paper was invented in 105 A.D. by Ts’ai Lun, also known as Cai Lun, an official of the Imperial Court. Yes another great invention by the Chinese. Ts’ai Lun not only improved the technique of making paper, but also made it possible to use a variety of materials such as tree bark, bamboo, rags, etc. The first paper discovered was made of hemp during the Western Han. Paper appears to have been made by a suspension of hemp waste in water, washed, soaked and beaten to a pulp with a wooden mallet. A paper mold was used to dip on the fiber slurry from the vat and held into place for drying. Eventually other plant fibers like the ones Ts’ai Lun made possible to use in addition to hemp. Before paper was invented people use to write on silk, wood, bamboo, and bones (oracle).

To answer the question whether paper is important, ask yourself how often you use paper? Well, let me tell you this, Americans alone use over 90 tons of paper each year and in the whole world over 300 metric tons of paper are produced each year! So I think we all are pretty grateful for the Chinese invention of paper.

The Chinese make light work of Payment

During the sung dynasty in the 10th century paper money was invented. Kublai Khan was the first Asian ruler to issue large amounts of paper money in 1260 A.D. Kublai Khan established currency of paper money by declaring that traders must accept paper money on pain of death. To go even further he confiscated all gold and silver, even if it was brought in by foreign traders. After being issued in China paper money became very popular all throughout the world. The first western country paper money was issued in was Sweden in 1661. America followed in 1690, France in 1720, and Germany not till 1806.At first paper money did not succeed everywhere. In some areas it led to a total collapse in trade. For the most part, paper money has been a major improvement in economy. We use paper money for just about everything we pay for. There aren’t too many times we go to the store and pay for something with only coins.

Progression Road Block

Having all these wonderful Chinese inventions is like we’re cruising down the highway. If all the Chinese inventions were taken away from us we would run into a roadblock on the highway of life. In other words, people would get a lot less accomplished. We would have to carry around loads heavy coin instead of having convenient paper money. We would not have the convenience of paper, instead we would be writing on burdensome bones, breakable bamboo, slick silk, or weathered wood. We couldn’t even sit down and enjoy stunning porcelain or chinaware. Without Chinese inventions, life would be a lot more complicated than we think. So, jump back on the highway of life with me and take advantage of all the wonderful Chinese inventions we have still today.

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