The four great Chinese inventions

There have been inventions that originated in China despite their lack of representation in Western history books. Thus, it is a common misconception that printing originated in Gutenberg while seventh century woodcut already existed in China. Today, it is associated with ancient China's four great inventions: paper, printing, compass and gunpowder. There are well over a greater or lesser capital, but all show how ancient China was advanced for its time and ahead of the West. It is likely that more than half of the inventions and discoveries that have revolutionized humanity have their source in Chinese civilization.

Attributed to China's four great inventions that have revolutionized Chinese civilizations well as humanity. 


Long before paper, stone tablets (or wood) and silk were used to send messages. However, the first being too heavy and too expensive second, there had to be a simpler method, the paper was then discovered. Chinese stories created it in the third century BC, during the reign of Qin Shi Huangdi but no trace of it has been recovered. The paper used in the Han consists mainly of flax fibers mixed with bamboo fibers and other components. At the time, the paper has not taken the heart of the Chinese and it was not until the arrival of Cai Lun that it was finally recognized at fair value. This person not only codified the art of making paper but also developed techniques to improve production. Indeed, it was by observing wasps build nests that improved manufacturing techniques. It is by the alliance between bark, hemp, rags and fishing nets that ended in the creation of durable paper. The invention of paper officially traces back to the year 105 BC.


Gutenberg is not responsible for printing but an improvement of the process of movable type around 1440. The earliest forms of printing appeared in China long before that. The Chinese had invented the first stamping in the fourth century. However, two centuries later, they went to the woodcut, printing process on wooden boards. This will be the eleventh century that Bi Sheng invented movable type printing which Gutenberg invented four centuries later.
Nevertheless, printing did not develop rapidly in China, the variety of ideograms needed to print a text had to correlate with a suitable process. The West, meanwhile, took advantage of the letters of the alphabet that were much easier to play with and less numerous.


With the discovery of the magnet, the compass revolutionized navigation, and there is more than 2,000 years of it. Even in BC, the Chinese were already using magnetism to highlight the art of feng shui. Used to indicate the cardinal points, the people then organized inside their house in harmony with nature. Similarly, these early compasses were used to determine where to bury the dead.
Initially, it was a piece of wood where a magnetic spoon rested. The attraction of the iron automatically pointed the stick towards the south. At the beginning of the era, the spoon turned into a needle and then at the beginning of the eleventh century, it took the form of a fish floating in the water. This fish, once heated, creates magnetism that can indicate the direction vessels should travel on a dark night. It was 150 years later that Westerners became aware of the polarity of the compass (or commonly called compass in navigation), while these two elements were mastered by the Chinese for almost 1,500 years before. British sinologist Needham highlights the following: "This discovery preceded some five or six centuries the acquisition of this data by Europeans. Chinese theorized magnetic declination before Europe does not know the concept of polarity."


This may seem unexpected but gunpowder was discovered in experiments made by Taoists. Trying to find a potion to become immortal, these budding alchemists discovered a revolutionary military method. It was under the Tang dynasty to the ninth century, that involuntary invention was born. It did not take long for a military use to be created. Indeed, at the beginning of the tenth century, a written explanation was found that powder packets were sent on enemy catapult.
Under the Song major advances were made. This gave rise to new invention such as the rocket flamethrower as well as guns, cannon and mortar. For a festival now it is used for fireworks. These were the first used to confront the enemy as well as spirits and ghosts. The formula for gunpowder was revealed in 1044 but it took another 250 years for Westerners to mimic this process using coal, saltpeter and sulfur in their writing.

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