Illustrations of whip-arrows (L) and raised “flower” and ball bombs(R),
from Zeng Gongliang and Ding Du, Wujing zongyao, late Ming (Wanli Period) edition, in Zhongguo bingshu jicheng, Volume 3 to 5, edited by the Zhongguo bingshu jicheng Editing Committee (Beijing and Shenyang: Jiefangjun chubanshe and Liaoshen shushe, 1988), 12:56 (p.633).
from A Visual Sourcebook for Chinese Civilization,
Patricia Ebrey, University of Washington
Song military engineers found gunpowder to be helpful in , leading to the development of early types of rockets, cannons, bombs, and mines.
The Wujing zongyao (“Collection of the Most Important Military Techniques”), a military manual from 1044 CE, records the first true gunpowder formula and describes how to produce it on a large scale. Gunpowder was first use in warfare as an incendiary, or fire-producing, compound. Small packages of gunpowder wrapped in paper or bamboo were attached to arrows and lit with a fuse.
mixed with scrap iron would be launched with . Another use was “fire-spurting lances,” which were a kind of flame-thrower using bamboo or metal tubes for their barrels.
Weapons involving gunpowder were extensively used by both
the Chinese and the Mongol forces in the 13th century. Song efforts to
continually improve their weapons were one reason they were able to hold
off the for several
decades. But the Mongols, like the and before them (who
conquered the first, or northern, Song dynasty capital in Kaifeng), were
equally ready to adopt new and better military technology, often by capturing
the Chinese engineers and gunners.
• A Visual Sourcebook for Chinese Civilization: Military Technology [Patricia Ebrey, University of Washington]
Discusses siegecraft, crossbows and armor, spears, clubs, and swords, catapults, warships, and gunpowder and firearms. Illustrations throughout, with questions for discussion.
Guo-Qiang [art21, PBS]
Cai Guo-Qiang (b. 1957) is a Chinese contemporary artist and curator
and, most recently, Director of Visual and Special
Effects for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games
in Beijing. “Accomplished
in a variety of media, Cai began using gunpowder in his work to foster
spontaneity and confront the controlled artistic tradition and social
climate in China.”
Guo-Qiang [Artist’s Official Website]
See especially the TEXTS section
for critical reviews of the artist’s work.