Portal:History of Imperial China

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History of Imperial China

The history of Imperial China spans from the beginning of the Qin dynasty in 221 BC to the end of the Qing dynasty and the formation of the Republic of China in 1912 AD.

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A method of making astronomical observation instruments at the time of Qing Dynasty.

The history of science and technology in China is both long and rich with many contributions to science and technology. In antiquity, independently of Greek philosophers and other civilizations, 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. Traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and herbal medicine were also practiced.

Among the earliest inventions were the abacus, the "shadow clock," and the first flying machines such as kites and Kongming lanterns. The four Great Inventions of ancient China: the compass, gunpowder, papermaking, and printing, were among the most important technological advances, only known in Europe by the end of the Middle Ages. The Tang dynasty (AD 618 - 906) in particular, was a time of great innovation.[1] A good deal of exchange occurred between Western and Chinese discoveries up to the Qing Dynasty.

The Jesuit China missions of the 16th and 17th centuries introduced Western science and astronomy, then undergoing its own revolution, to China, and knowledge of Chinese technology was brought to Europe. Much of the early Western work in the history of science in China was done by Joseph Needham. (read more...)

Selected biography

Shen Kua.JPG
Shen Kuo or Shen Kua (Chinese: 沈括; pinyin: Shěn Kuò; Wade–Giles: Shen K'uo) (1031–1095), style name Cunzhong and pseudonym Mengqi Weng, was a polymathic Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty (960–1279). Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, agronomist, archaeologist, ethnographer, cartographer, encyclopedist, general, diplomat, hydraulic engineer, inventor, academy chancellor, finance minister, governmental state inspector, poet, and musician. He was the head official for the Bureau of Astronomy in the Song court, as well as an Assistant Minister of Imperial Hospitality.[2] At court his political allegiance was to the Reformist faction known as the New Policies Group, headed by Chancellor Wang Anshi (1021–1086). (read more...)

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Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Portrait of Chicasei Goyô (Wu Yong) (1827–1830).jpg

An 1830 painting of Wu Yong, a fictional Chinese priest-astronomer. The illustration includes valuable depictions of contemporary astronomical instruments.

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  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Inventions was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Needham, Volume 4, Part 2, 33.
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