The top 10 Chinese accomplishments — Firecrackers, Noodles, Tea, Traditional medicine, seismograph, paper currency, suspension bridge, kite, subway & porcelain.
Setting off firecrackers on the eve of Chinese New Year has a long history in China. At the beginning, people threw tubes of bamboo into the fire hoping that the resulting explosion would frighten away evil spirits and monsters to ensure their safety in the new year. Later on, in order to make louder noises, they began to fill bamboo tubes with gunpowder, giving rise to today’s firecrackers.
There used to be seven daily necessities in China: firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar and tea. It’s said that tea leaves were discovered by the mythological Shennong in ancient times: “Shennong tried hundreds of herbs and got himself poisoned as many as 72 times in one day, but found that tea neutralised all the poisons”. From then on people could not imagine days without tea.
Traditional Chinese medicine is one of the exclusive Chinese traditions. The Chinese are adept at learning and medicating, and have successfully combined the two together. Learning martial arts and Qigong can both cure illness and prevent disease as well. To heal a person instead of curing the illness is one of the major principles of traditional Chinese medicine.
Noodles constitute an important part of the Oriental diet. They first appeared in China about 4,000 years ago, which has been proved by archaeologists. In 2005, Chinese archaeologists found noodles that are over 4,000 years old in Qinghai province. Records of noodles also appear in ancient Chinese books dating back to the early third century AD.
In 132 AD, Zhang Heng invented the first ever seismograph. It was able to record fairly accurately the type, size and location of an earthquake, and it has been called the prototype for modern computers. Unfortunately, the original seismograph did not survive. Now, China’s Tianhe-2 is the fastest supercomputer in the world, which is around twice as fast as the Titan of the US.
The other top 10 Chinese accomplishments are paper currency, banking system, suspension bridge, kite, subway and porcelain.
Published in Confucius Institute Magazine.
Number 32. Volume III. May 2014.