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As quatro grandes invenções (chinês tradicional: 四大發明, chinês simplificado: 四大发明, pinyin: sì dà fāmíng) são a bússola, a impressão, a fabricação de papel e a pólvora.[1] Estas invenções da China antiga que são celebradas na cultura chinesa pelo seu significado histórico e como símbolos da avançada ciência e tecnologia da China antiga.[2][3]

Diagrama da bússola de um marinheiro da dinastia Ming

Essas quatro descobertas tiveram um enorme impacto no desenvolvimento da civilização chinesa e em um amplo impacto global. O filósofo inglês Francis Bacon, deixou escrito suas impressões sobre essas descobertas no Novum Organum:

" Impressão, pólvora e bússola: Estas três mudaram toda a face e o estado das coisas em todo o mundo; a primeira na literatura, a segunda na guerra, a terceira na navegação; de onde se seguiram inúmeras mudanças, tanto que nenhum império, nenhuma seita, nenhuma estrela parece ter exercido maior poder e influência nos assuntos humanos do que essas descobertas mecânicas."[4]
Bússola

Uma bússola de magnetita foi usada na China durante a dinastia Han entre o século II aC e o primeiro século, onde foi chamada de "governadora do sul" (司南 sīnán).[5] Não foi usado para navegação, mas sim para geomancia e adivinhação.[6] Durante a maior parte da história chinesa, a bússola que permaneceu em uso estava na forma de uma agulha magnética flutuando em uma tigela de água.[7] De acordo com Needham, os chineses da dinastia Song e da Dinastia Yuan continuaram a usar uma bússola seca, embora este tipo nunca tenha se tornado tão amplamente usado na China quanto a bússola molhada.[8] A bússola seca usada na China era uma bússola de suspensão seca, uma estrutura de madeira trabalhada na forma de uma tartaruga pendurada de cabeça para baixo por uma tábua, com o ímã natural selado em cera e, se girado, a agulha na cauda da tartaruga apontaria sempre direção cardeal setentrional.[8] O desenho chinês da bússola seca suspensa persistiu em uso até o século XVIII.[9]

Impressão

A invenção chinesa da impressão em xilogravura, em algum momento antes do primeiro livro datado de 868 (o Sutra do Diamante), produziu a primeira cultura impressa do mundo. De acordo com A. Hyatt Mayor, curador do Metropolitan Museum of Art, "foram os chineses que realmente descobriram os meios de comunicação que dominariam até a nossa era"[10] A impressão no norte da China avançou ainda mais no século XI, como foi escrito pelo cientista e estadista da dinastia Song, Shen Kuo (1031-1095),[11] que o artesão comum Bi Sheng (990-1051)[12] inventou a impressão do tipo móvel de cerâmica.[13]

A corte da Dinastia Qing patrocinou enormes projetos de impressão usando a impressão de tipo móvel em blocos de madeira durante o século XVIII. Embora substituída por técnicas de impressão ocidentais, a impressão do tipo móvel de blocos de madeira ainda permanece em uso em comunidades isoladas na China.[14]

Papel
Uma bomba de "meteoro de fogo mágico indo contra o vento", como mostrado no Huolongjing ca. 1350.

A produção de papel tem sido tradicionalmente atribuída à China por volta do ano 105, quando Cai Lun, funcionário da corte imperial durante a dinastia Han, criou uma folha de papel usando amoreira e outras fibras de entrecasca, junto com redes de arrastão, trapos e resíduos de cânhamo.[15] No entanto, uma recente descoberta arqueológica foi relatada a partir de Gansu de papel com caracteres chineses que datam de 8 aC.[16] No século VI, folhas de papel também estavam começando a ser usadas para papel higiênico.[17] Durante a dinastia Tang (618-907) o papel foi dobrado e costurado em sacos quadrados para preservar o sabor do chá.[18] A dinastia seguinte, a Song (960-1279), foi o primeiro governo a emitir papel-moeda.

Pólvora

A pólvora foi descoberta no século IX pelos alquimistas chineses em busca de um elixir da imortalidade.[19] Na época em que o tratado da dinastia Song, Wujing Zongyao (武 经 总 要), foi escrito por Zeng Gongliang[20] e Yang Weide em 1044, as várias fórmulas chinesas para a pólvora continham níveis de nitrato na faixa de 27% a 50%.[21] No final do século XII, as fórmulas chinesas de pólvora tinham um nível de nitrato capaz de estourar através de recipientes de metal de ferro fundido, na forma das primeiras bombas de granadas ocas e cheias de pólvora.[22] Os chineses descobriram como criar explosivos redondos, embalando suas conchas vazias com esta pólvora enriquecida com nitrato.[22] Um tesouro escavado das antigas minas terrestres Ming mostrou que a pólvora misturada estava presente na China em 1370. Há evidências que sugerem que a pólvora pode ter sido usado no leste da Ásia desde o século XIII.[23]

Referências

  1. «The Four Great Inventions». China.org.cn. Consultado em 11 de novembro de 2007 
  2. «Four Great Inventions of Ancient China -- Compass». ChinaCulture.org. Consultado em 11 de novembro de 2007. Arquivado do original em 9 de abril de 2007 
  3. «Four Great Inventions of Ancient China -- Gunpowder». ChinaCulture.org. Consultado em 11 de novembro de 2007. Arquivado do original em 28 de agosto de 2007 
  4. Novum Organum, Liber I, CXXIX - Traduzido e adaptado da tradução de 1863
  5. Merrill, Ronald T.; McElhinny, Michael W. (1983). The Earth's magnetic field: Its history, origin and planetary perspective 2nd printing ed. San Francisco: Academic press. p. 1. ISBN 0-12-491242-7 
  6. Shu-hua, Li (Julho de 1954). «Origine de la Boussole 11. Aimant et Bousso». Oxford: Oxford Student Publications. Isis. 45: 175–196. doi:10.1086/348315 
  7. Kreutz, p. 373
  8. a b Needham, IV 1, p. 255
  9. Needham, IV 1, p. 290
  10. A Hyatt Mayor (1971). Prints and People. Nos 1-4. Princeton: Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 0-691-00326-2. Verifique |isbn= (ajuda) 
  11. Needham, V 1, p. 201.
  12. Blue, Jennifer (25 de julho de 2007). «Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature». USGS. Consultado em 5 de agosto de 2007 
  13. Needham, Joseph (1994). The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China, Volume 4. [S.l.]: Cambridge University Press. p. 14. ISBN 9780521329958. Bi Sheng... who first devised, about 1045, the art of printing with movable type 
  14. Olympics bring unexpected luck to China's sole village using age-old movable-type printing, People's Daily
  15. «Papermaking». Encyclopædia Britannica. Consultado em 11 de novembro de 2007 
  16. «World Archaeological Congress eNewsletter». 11 de agosto de 2006. Consultado em 11 de novembro de 2007. Arquivado do original em 6 de novembro de 2007 
  17. Needham, V 1, p. 123
  18. Needham, V 1, p. 122
  19. Buchanan (2006), p. 42
  20. Zeng Gongliang
  21. Needham, V 7, pp. 345
  22. a b Needham, V 7, pp. 347
  23. Andrade (2016), p. 110

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