Chinese quotes (2)

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. (Laozi, 6th Century philosopher)

Amongst the flowers is a pot of wine;
I pour alone but with no friend at hand;
So I lift the cup to invite the shining moon;
Along with my shadow, a fellowship of three
(Li Bai, Tang Dynasty poet)

“Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.” (Mao Zedong, political leader)

(Comment: Thoughts worth contemplating)

Chinese quotes (1)

“I’d rather do wrong to others than allow them to do wrong to me!” (Cao Cao, Han Dynasty warlord)

“At fifteen, I aspired to learning. At thirty, I established my stand. At forty, I had no delusions. At fifty, I knew my destiny. At sixty, I knew truth in all I heard. At seventy, I could follow the wishes of my heart without doing wrong.” (Kong Fu Zi)

“No matter if it is a white cat or a black cat; as long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat.” (Deng Xiaoping, de facto leader of People’s Republic, late 1970s to early 1990s)

(Sound advice, from the past to the present)

China’s contribution to human civilisation: a summary

“China has been the source of many innovations, scientific discoveries and inventions.[1] This includes the Four Great Inventions: papermaking, the compass, gunpowder, and printing (both woodblock and movable type). The list below contains these and other inventions in China attested by archaeological or historical evidence.

The historical region now known as China experienced a history involving mechanics, hydraulics and mathematics applied to horology, metallurgy, astronomy, agriculture, engineering, music theory, craftsmanship, naval architecture and warfare. By the Warring States period (403–221 BC), inhabitants of the Warring States had advanced metallurgic technology, including the blast furnace and cupola furnace, while the finery forge and puddling process were known by the Han Dynasty (202 BC–AD 220). A sophisticated economic system in imperial China gave birth to inventions such as paper money during the Song Dynasty (960–1279).

The invention of gunpowder during the mid 9th century led to an array of inventions such as the fire lance, land mine, naval mine, hand cannon, exploding cannonballs, multistage rocket and rocket bombs with aerodynamic wings and explosive payloads. With the navigational aid of the 11th century compass and ability to steer at high sea with the 1st century sternpost rudder, premodern Chinese sailors sailed as far as East Africa.[2][3][4] In water-powered clockworks, the premodern Chinese had used the escapement mechanism since the 8th century and the endless power-transmitting chain drive in the 11th century. They also made large mechanical puppet theaters driven by waterwheels and carriage wheels and wine-serving automatons driven by paddle wheel boats.

The contemporaneous Peiligang and Pengtoushan cultures represent the oldest Neolithic cultures of China and were formed around 7000 BC.[5] Some of the first inventions of Neolithic China include semilunar and rectangular stone knives, stone hoes and spades, the cultivation of millet, rice, and the soybean, the refinement of sericulture, the building of rammed earth structures with lime-plastered house floors, the creation of pottery with cord-mat-basket designs, the creation of pottery tripods and pottery steamers and the development of ceremonial vessels and scapulimancy for purposes of divination.[6][7]

The British sinologist Francesca Bray argues that the domestication of the ox and buffalo during the Longshan culture (c. 3000–c. 2000 BC) period, the absence of Longshan-era irrigation or high-yield crops, full evidence of Longshan cultivation of dry-land cereal crops which gave high yields “only when the soil was carefully cultivated,” suggest that the plough was known at least by the Longshan culture period and explains the high agricultural production yields which allowed the rise of Chinese civilization during the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600–c. 1050 BC).[8] Later inventions such as the multiple-tube seed drill and heavy moldboard iron plough enabled China to sustain a much larger population through greater improvements in agricultural output. ”

(From Wikipaedia)

A few Chinese inventions (Part 2)

A few more of the far-reaching Chinese inventions which changed the world
(From ‘Humans are free’ article “22 Chinese inventions which changed the world”)

Roads and Relay Hostels: Roads and relay hostels, or inns, greatly improved communication and trade throughout the vast land of China. By the late 700’s, inns offered horses and food to travelers, and provided places for government officials to stay for the night during long journeys.

The system of roads allowed government inspectors, tax collectors, and postal messengers to move long distances. Messengers delivered mail across hundreds of miles. Merchants could carry trade goods such as rice, tea, silk, and seafood without fear of bandits.

Sciences: Astronomy, physics, chemistry, meteorology, seismology, technology, engineering, and mathematics can trace their early origins to China.

Scholars routinely discovered scientific principles and invented new ones. A number of notable astronomical discoveries were made prior to the application of the telescope. For example, the obliquity of the ecliptic was estimated as early as 1000 BC by Chinese astronomers.

From 600 AD until 1500 AD, China was the world’s most technologically advanced society. The history of science and technology in China is both long and rich with many contributions to science and technology.

In antiquity, ancient Chinese philosophers made significant advances in science, technology, mathematics, and astronomy. The first recorded observations of comets, solar eclipses, and supernovae were made in China.

Ancient Chinese scientists already possessed knowledge of alchemy. When it comes to scientific achievements and developments in ancient China, alchemy would be placed in the first chapter of the history book of chemistry.

According to the ancient Chinese Taoist concept of making dan, an energy cluster in a cultivator’s body, collected from other dimensions, in the furnace, once dan is formed, it has the capability of changing any tangible substance into gold or silver.

Dan can also transform the physical body and bodies in other dimensions, thus promoting a cultivator to transcend time, space, and the human body and enter into higher levels of cultivation.

The first seismograph, credited to the Royal Astronomer of the late Han Dynasty, Chang Heng, was designed as a cast bronze vessel with nine dragons facing different directions, each of which held a ball in its mouth.

Any seismic activity detected by the vessel would prompt the balls to fall into the corresponding mouths of the nine frogs sitting below the dragons, which would point to the direction of the earth tremor.

This natural measuring tool did not appear in the West until approximately 1,500 years later, where it has since been instrumental in measuring and predicting earthquakes in places like California and Mexico.

Smallpox Inoculation:  A Daoist monk introduced the technique of inoculation to the physicians in the capital. By the 16th century it was widely practiced against smallpox in China. The technique was unknown in Europe until the 1800’s, when it was introduced by Doctor Louis Pasteur.

Spinning Wheel:  Silk was first made by the Chinese about 4000 years ago. Silk thread is made from the cocoon of the silkworm moth, whose caterpillar eats the the leaves of the mulberry tree. Silk spinners needed a method to deal with the tough, long silk threads.

To meet the increasing demand for silk fabric, the Chinese developed the spinning wheel in 1035. This simple circular machine, easily operated by one person, could wind fine fibers of silk into thread.

The invention used a wheel to stretch and align the fibers. A drive belt made the wheels spin. Italians who traveled to China during the Mongol dynasty brought the invention to Europe in the 14th century.

Stirrups:  The invention of the stirrup was timely and appreciated. Before its appearance, riders had to hold on tightly to the horse’s mane to avoid falling off, in addition to having to mount the horse by a flying leap or a pole vault.

This invention, one that did not appear in the West until 400 years later .and led to the development of another unique Chinese invention: water polo.

Umbrella:  In written records, the oldest reference to a collapsible umbrella dates to the year 21 A.D., when Wang Mang had one designed for a ceremonial four-wheeled carriage.

The 2nd century commentator Fu Qian added that this collapsible umbrella of Wang Mang’s carriage had bendable joints which enabled them to be extended or retracted.

I-Ching and Yin Yang : Written by King Wen and his son, Duke Chou, nearly 3,000 years ago, the ancient book of “I-Ching” (Book of Transformations) to this day provides guidance to those seeking the true organization and balance of the Universe’s natural elements.

The “yin” and the “yang,” representing all the possible sets of naturally paired opposites, is incorporated into this philosophical work, which has become part history and part eternal spiritual guide.

A few Chinese inventions (Part 1)

A few of the far-reaching Chinese inventions which changed the world
(From ‘Humans are free’ article “22 Chinese inventions which changed the world”)

Abacus   The Chinese developed the abacus, a counting device, around 100 AD. By the 1300’s it was perfected and given the form it still has today

Alcohol   Newly unearthed evidence suggests that we have the Chinese to thank for inventing alcohol. Analysis of 9000-year-old pottery shards found in the Henan province revealed the presence of alcohol, 1000 years before inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula, previously believed to be the first brewers.

Canals and Locks   Imperial China’s construction of waterways to connect different parts of its vast territory produced some of the world’s greatest water engineering projects

Clock   One of the greatest inventions of the medieval world was the mechanical clock.

Compass   Recognized in Chinese as Si Nan, this early version of today’s compass came in the form of a two-part instrument, the first one a metal spoon made of magnetic loadstone, the second one a square bronze plate, which featured, in Chinese characters, the main directions of North, South, East, West, etc., symbols from the I-Ching oracle books, and the finer markings of 24 compass points with the 28 lunar mansions along the outer edge

Crossbow  The use of the bow and arrow for hunting and for war dates back to the Paleolithic period in Africa, Asia, and Europe. It was widely used in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, the Americas, and Europe until the introduction of gunpowder.

However, over two thousand years ago in China, the crossbow was invented as an innovation to the basic bow and arrow that extended the use of mechanical hand weapons throughout the world.

Gunpowder and Fireworks   Gunpowder is the first explosive substance mankind learnt to use and also one of the four great inventions of ancient China.

Iron and Bronze    Coming much earlier than it did in other civilizations; the Bronze Age in Chinese history was especially significant. It was during this period around 3000 BC that Chinese metal workers discovered how to make bronze from copper and tin, producing an easier casting method that allowed them to make sharper cutting tools.

Kite    Two thousand years before the European discovery of flying sails, the first Chinese kites were already in flight.

Movable Sails & Rudder   The Chinese maritime forces, therein including the sailors as well as the shipbuilders, had no comparable equals in the ancient world. They were learned, widely traveled and technically advanced. The Cape of Good Hope, Australia, trade with Africa, a possible landing in the Americas-all of these achievements have at one time or another been attributed to these formidable men.

In addition, the ancient Chinese maritime forces were responsible for the invention of the rudder and watertight compartments for ship’s hulls. Likewise, they are credited with innovating the use of masts and the replacement of the basic square sail with the fore-and-aft rig allowing the ship to sail into the wind.

Musical Breakthroughs   The Chinese court musician Ling-lun created the first reed instrument, the bamboo pipe, sometime between 3000 and 2501 B.C. By 2500 B.C., Chinese music grew more complex, employing a five-note scale.

In subsequent dynasties, the development of Chinese music was strongly influenced by foreign music, especially Central Asia..

Paper, Printing and Publishing   In almost every respect, the Chinese were at the forefront of developing the printed word. In 105 A.D., Ts’ai Lun invented the process for manufacturing paper, introducing the first use in China.

Paper Money   The Chinese invented paper money in the 9th century AD. Its original name was flying money because it was so light it could blow out of one’s hand. As exchange certificates used by merchants, paper money was quickly adopted by the government for forwarding tax payments.

Porcelain   The invention of porcelain was China’s great contribution to the world civilization.

China in the 15th Century AD

We, Zheng He and companions, at the beginning of Zhu Di’s reign received the Imperial Commission as envoys to the barbarians. Up until now seven voyages have taken place and, each time, we have commanded several tens of thousands of government soldiers and more than a hundred oceangoing vessels. We have … reached countries of the Western Regions, more than three thousand countries in all.

We have … beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising sky high, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions far away, hidden in a blue transparency of light vapours, while our sails, loftily unfurled like clouds, day and night continued their course, rapid like that of a star, traversing those savage waves.”

(Stone inscriptions in the Palace of the Celestial Spouse Chiang su and Liu Shia Chang, dated 1431)

“On 8 March 1421 the biggest fleet the world had ever seen sailed from its base in China. The ships, huge junks nearly five hundred feet long and built from the finest teak, were under the command of Emperor Zhu Di’s eunuch admirals. Their mission was to proceed all the way to the end of earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas and unite the whole world in Confucian harmony. That journey would last over two years and circle the globe.”

“… They had also discovered Antarctica, reached Australia three hundred and fifty years before Cook and solved the problem of longitude three hundred years before the Europeans.”

The above are from ‘1421. The year China discovered the world’ by Gavin Menzies. He is a retired Royal Navy Submarine Commanding Officer, born in China. He spent 15 years tracing the astonishing voyages of Admiral Zheng He’s fleets.

The book contains many pages of supporting evidence; eye witness diaries; key chartsdescribing the first navigation of the world”; and the “determination of longitude by the Chinese in the early 15th century.” A somewhat comprehensive presentation.

As said on the inside front cover “His compelling narrative pulls together ancient maps, precise navigational knowledge, astronomy and the surviving accounts of Chinese explorers and the later European navigators. It brings to light the artefacts and inscribed stones left behind by the emperor’s fleet, the evidence of sunken junks along the route and the ornate votive offerings left by the Chinese sailors wherever they landed, in thanks to Shao Lin, goddess of the sea.”

The reviews shown by amazon.co.uk had an average rating of 4 (out of 5) from more than 500 reviewers.

Eurocentric readers, fed on Columbus and Magellan (both of whom had maps to follow), will need to rely on the achievements of European colonialism from the 15th to the 20th century AD, and today’s neo-colonialism. Ironically, the former colonial powers are now led by a new nation created by European emigrants within this colonial period.

Did China spark the Italian Renaissance? (Part 2)

China had been collecting tribute from south-eastern and southern Asia for some time. This process involved ambassadors from these lands being taken to China as valued guests, treated most favourably there, and then returned home with gifts. The visiting ambassadors would have delivered valuable gifts to the Emperor as tribute.

Admiral Zheng He was sent, with 7 Treasure Fleets, to identify and investigate all the barbarian lands; and to offer their leaders the opportunity to pay their respect to China by bringing tribute to the Emperor. To that end, they were given maps and shown the way to China. In this process, the Admiral or his deputies, while suffering a huge tsunami (near South Island, New Zealand) and other fatalities, calculated longitude (hitherto beyond the scope of previous mariners), and mapped the world.

The inside front cover of ‘1434: The year a magnificent Chinese fleet sailed into Italy and ignited the Renaissance’ contains these extracts.

“… Menzies makes the startling claim that in the year 1434, China – then the world’s most technologically advanced civilisation – provided the spark that set the Renaissance ablaze.”

“Fifteenth century Florence and Venice were hubs of world trade, attracting merchants from all over the globe. In 1434, a Chinese fleet – official ambassadors of the Emperor – arrived in Tuscany and met with Pope Eugenius IV in Florence.”

“… the delegation presented the influential pope with a diverse wealth of Chinese learning: art, geography (including world maps which were later passed onto Columbus and Magellan), astronomy, mathematics, printing, architecture, civil engineering, military weapons, and more.”

“The vast treasure of knowledge spread across Europe, igniting the legendary inventiveness of the Renaissance, including Da Vinci’s mechanical creations, the Copernican revolution and Galileo’s discoveries.”

Why would the Chinese delegation hand over to the barbarian Pope (and his people) more than the maps required to reach China with tribute? To show the extent to which China was ahead of other people, both industrially and culturally?

Or, did the Chinese hand over a book containing all this additional information, without realising that much of it might be plagiarised by key individuals each proclaiming his inventiveness? Menzies suggests this may be the case.

Nearly ten years have passed since 1434 was published. Have there been any factual rebuttals?

Did China spark the Italian Renaissance? (Part 1)

“In 1434 a sophisticated Chinese delegation visited Italy. After that date the authority of Aristotle and Ptolemy was overturned, and Chinese knowledge ignited the work of geniuses such as da Vinci, Copernicus and Galileo. China’s influence sparked the Renaissance. The course of Western civilisation was changed forever.

Following on the bestselling 1421, Gavin Menzies’ controversial new book 1434 charts the final voyage of the Imperial Chinese fleet. His astonishing discoveries about China’s legacy in Europe rewrite the history of our modern world.”

The above are from the back cover of ‘1434: The year a magnificient Chinese fleet sailed to Italy and ignited the Renaissance.’

Credible? A Western historian is on record saying that he had difficulty suspending his misbeliefs about Menzies’ tentative conclusions. About what? The gifts of new knowledge to the then Pope from the Emperor of China delivered by Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He); and how the Renaissance arose from the spread if this high-value knowledge.

Anyone who had read the book will be impressed by the vast scope of Menzies’ investigations. His details about the principal players in this drama, what they did or contribute, and their relationships with one another are incredible. So much research!

Menzies is a former mariner, who “visited 120 countries, over 900 museums and libraries, and every major sea port of the later Middle Ages” in the course of researching his previous book ‘1421.’ Through the massive investigations by his research teams into the pathways the contribution by China seem to have led to the Renaissance in Italy, Menzies has again drawn upon the work of many earlier reputable researchers and relevant documents in major libraries.

Disbelief and probable Eurocentrism are one side of the coin. The other side requires demonstrating an alternative explanation for Italy’s sudden Renaissance in the realm of the technologies, maps, art, etc., etc. which Menzies refers to.

Is there any value in just asking “Where’s the evidence?” That allegedly happened when some historians in Australia examined ‘1421: The year China discovered the world.’ Most of the evidence is obviously in China. Go look!