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Chinese Firearms and Cannons


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#16 Yun

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Posted 11 September 2004 - 07:51 AM

Warhead, are you referring to Zhang Yichao? We had a thread on him, which is now in the Tang dynasty board. I'm aware that there is a famous mural in Dunhuang depicting him in a grand procession, but had not heard it had anything to do with the depiction of the bombard. Here's some info on it: http://www.textile-a...un/cave156.html

I've seen the picture of the Dunhuang silk banner depicting the fire-lance and the bomb being used by the demons of Mara. It's reproduced in the book "The Genius of China", and dated to "no later than 950". There is no mention of Zhang Yichao in connection with this banner.

Do note, however, that the carved bas relief mentioned in this passage (quoted earlier by DaMo) is not the same as the Dunhuang one:

In 1985 a visitor to a Buddhist cave in the Chinese province of Szechuan noticed something that other people had missed. There, carved on opposing walls, are groups of men, armed to the teeth. One is a demon-like fellow, holding what is unmistakably a bombard -- just like the one in the French drawing. Another holds a bomb. Both carvings are unambiguous -- they even show flames exploding outward.

But there's a catch. These figures were carved in 1128 -- two centuries before the French bombard.


This depiction is in Sichuan, not Dunhuang, and is dated to around 1128 (right after the fall of the Northern Song), not 950. The gun here is not a fire-lance, but a bombard, which is a kind of wide-bored cannon that launches a spear or arrow. There is a picture of a relief in "The Genius of China" that might be it, but I'm not sure because Robert Temple didn't give enough details.
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#17 Liang Jieming

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Posted 12 September 2004 - 12:50 PM

Hey Liang, do you happen to have a picture of that 10th century silk gun/grenade?  :)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yeah I do. I don't know how to post pictures here and I can't seem to see the pictures you guys keep refering to in the post either. You'll have to let me know how to post pictures. Meanwhile, I have it on my yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo....ragonSeedLegacy if you want to see it. Its a picture of Buddha being attacked by demons. ;-)

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#18 Liang Jieming

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Posted 01 November 2004 - 02:05 AM

Took me awhile but here it is.

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#19 TMPikachu

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Posted 01 November 2004 - 08:34 PM

Demons with guns, how cool is that?

So that thing launches 'arrows'? I've seen pictures of the european version before, it's like an iron tube on a staff.
Kinda like the guns used in Princess Mononoke
but those shot iron balls, not sharpened bolts.
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#20 Liang Jieming

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Posted 01 November 2004 - 09:14 PM

Demons with guns, how cool is that?

So that thing launches 'arrows'? I've seen pictures of the european version before, it's like an iron tube on a staff.
Kinda like the guns used in Princess Mononoke
but those shot iron balls, not sharpened bolts.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The Chinese had roughly 4 types of fire-lances, the arrow firing, the metal balls blasting, the rocket throwing and the fire spitting lance for close combat. Sometimes the gunpowder firing part was just added to a normal spear and still used like a spear but allowing the soldier to trigger a single explosion in the face of the enemy! I have a picture of some of these. I'll post them when I get the time to scan them into my computer. :-)

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#21 TMPikachu

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Posted 01 November 2004 - 09:19 PM

The flame throwing variety, was it an infantry only weapon?
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#22 Liang Jieming

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Posted 01 November 2004 - 10:50 PM

The flame throwing variety, was it an infantry only weapon?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Ya I think so. I don't think they were terribly useful as they were limited in range and shot. And Chinese gunpowder lacked the big bang of the western gunpowder because of a poor saltpeter mix. Europe had more saltpeter than China did.

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#23 Guest_Riain_*

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 09:55 PM

As I (imperfectly) understand things early European cannon were either cast in bronze, or built up out of wrought iron using welding and reinforcing bands etc. until the English learned how to cast iron cannon in 1553. I also understand that China had the world best iron smelting in medieval times and made cannon earlier than the early 1300s, when they appeared in Europe. How were early Chinese cannon made, were they cast iron centuries before the English, or the other 2 methods? I've read that Chinese gunpowder is less potent than European due to a lack of saltpetre. Why does China have less saltpetre, why couldn't it get more?

#24 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 11:53 PM

The earliest chinese cannon was dated from the Yuan period (14th century).. . it's made of Bronze..I'll try to find the picture for that ...
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#25 Enkidu

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 04:30 AM

I remember seeing a painting of a Qing military campaign against the Dzungars. On the left of the painting, there was a formation of camels, all had cannons loaded on their back (humps). Very interesting. The cannons were not very big, and I am not sure how effective they were. :g:

#26 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 01:15 AM

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The above shows the Yuan cannon in 1332, made of bronze and is the earliest cannon sofar that's found in China and is also the world's earliest cannon.This primitive cannon's length is 35.3cm, turret size diameter is 10.5 cm, and weighs 6.94kg. In order to prevent the explosion from damaging the body of cannon, this cannon has the structure that is able to release multi-exhaust gase.

This Bronze cannon was inscribed with "the third year reign of Yuan zhi Sun" and was constructed in 1332. It was understood that near Yuan's border, some 300 such cannon were deployed indicating that Yuan was able to manufacture these cannon and used in battles.

Early Ming's cannon was also based on such bronze structure. During the battle of Pingjiang (1366-1367) against Yuan , this cannon was used by the Ming. During the siege, the Ming utilized 240 trebuchet, 2740 "Qixiao" hand cannon, 2400 cannons.
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#27 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 01:27 AM

Here are some information on chinese gunpowder and its military use from
http://www.silk-road.../artl/gun.shtml

Gunpower
Along with the silk and paper, gunpowder is another invention by Chinese and the Silk Road helped it spread to the west. The dating of gunpowder is as early as 850 A.D. This invention seems to have been discovered in China by accident - by alchemists seeking the elixir of immortality. This earliest account reported the experiment: "some have heated together the saltpeter, sulfure and carbon of charcoal with honey; smoke and flames result, so that their hands and faces have been burnt, and even the whole house burnt down."

The gunpowder used for military purpose was first recorded in 919 A.D. By the 11th century, explosive bombs filled with gunpowder and fired from catapults were introduced and used in China. The words "fire cannon", "rocket", "missile" and "fireball" appeared time and again in the official Song history as well as two other books written during the same period. The first detailed description of using "firing cannon" in warfare was in connection with a battle fought in 1126 when the Song army used it against the invading Nuchens. The so-called fire cannon was a tube made of bamboo filled with gunpowder which, when fired, threw a flaming missile towards the enemy. Since the barrel was made of bamboo, the flying missile could not cover a long distance. According to a description of a battle scene in 1132, it took two persons to carry a "fire cannon", and the cannons were fired from a moving platform after it had been moved close to the wall of the besieged city.

The Chinese invention of gunpowder never went much beyond its crudest form, and it was abandoned as a military weapon shortly afterwards. It reached Japan, Islam and then Europe in the 13th century and the Arabs improved gunpowder for military use. In 1280, the Syrian al-Hasan ar-Rammah wrote the Book of Fighting on Horseback and with War Engines. Herein introduced a rocket device, which he called "Chinese arrow." The early account of gunpowder in Europe was recorded by English philosopher Roger Bacon in the 13th century. One century later the Arabs used it to attack the Spanish town Baza and the very next year in 1326 Florence ordered the manufacturing of cannon and cannon balls. From Italy the making of gunpowder soon spread to other European countries, and by the 1350s it had become an effective weapon on the battlefield.

Origin of Gun
The Chinese adapted their primitive catapults to eventually develop a true gun with a metal barrel, gunpowder and a projectile by the 12th century. It is believed that the first gun was found in the early 1970s at Pan-la-ch'eng-tzu village, Manchuria, and dated to around 1290 A.D.
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#28 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 01:31 AM

From http://www.sfusd.k12...War/Cannon.html,

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Chinese cannon dated 1368

1. Development of Weapons from Fireworks

The earliest earliest recorded mention of "fire-powder" (for "fireworks") comes from China late in the third century B.C. Bamboo tubes filled with saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal were tossed into fires during religious festivals in hopes the noise of the explosion would frighten evil spirits.

It's probable that some of these bamboo tubes were not sealed well and, instead of bursting with an explosion, simply went shooting out of the fire. Some clever observer may have then begun experiments to deliberately produce the same effect as the bamboo tubes which leaked fire to make a "rocket".

Certainly by the year 1045 A.D. the use of gunpowder and rockets formed an important part of Chinese military tactics.

In 1132, fire lances are mentioned in historical records, in 1221, cast iron bombs, and in 1259, bamboo tubes containing powder and clay pellets.

2. Cannons and Guns

True gunpowder only appeared in China in the Mongol period (1260-1368) and a cannon dated 1332 was found.

The rocket seems to have arrived in Europe around 1241 A.D. Rocket-like weapons were being used by the Mongols against Magyar forces in the battle of Sejo. These weapons were captured and copied for European armies. Accounts also describe Mongol's use of a noxious (terrible smelling) smoke screen -- possibly the first use of chemical warfare.

Rockets appear in Arab literature in 1258 A.D., describing Mongol invaders' use of them to capture the city of Baghdad. Quick to learn, the Arabs adopted the rocket into their own arms inventory and, during the Seventh Crusade, used them against the French Army of King Louis IX in 1268.
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#29 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 01:36 AM

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(The bronze cannon above was recovered with five more from a shipwreck in China last year)

From http://bronzecannon....ese_cannons.htm


" The coat of arms and eulogy inscribed in Han characters and filled with gold and silver.
by Vu Toan

On the evening of August 15, 2003, while catching oysters at the depth of 30m, about 36 nautical miles (57.6km) away from the mouth of the Nhuong River in Ha Tinh Province, divers touched something very hard.

Looking at it carefully, they determined it was an incense burner. News of the discovery quickly spread to other boats. About 30 divers plunged into the sea to recover the bronze objects.

After 17 days of hard work under heavy seas, the divers lifted three cannons with the help of a crane on a 45-tonne ship. Six of them became unconscious during the work in the deep sea but they recovered.

Countless antique hunters have flocked to the village of Cam Linh in Cam Xuyen District since the discovery of the cannons and other artifacts. The divers gave one of the cannons to the owner of the ship for his service. Police seized the cannon before it reached the Viet Nam-Chinese border. The other two are in the gardens of Pham Tien Phuong and Tran Trong Thuong, two other ship owners.

The cannons are 2.43m long and weigh 1.4 tones each. The barrel is 40cm in diameter, while the diameter of the bore is 22cm. A large copper band covering the barrel is adorned with silver patterns. There is an inscription in Han Chinese characters at one end of the guns that states, "The second year under the reign by King Minh Mang."

"Minh Mang’s the second year of reign indicates the year 1821, after King Minh Mang, the second sovereign of the last feudal dynasty of Viet Nam, ascended to the throne," said Nguyen Tri Son, vice-director of the Ha Tinh Museum. "These cannons may have been made in China by order of the king. They went down with the ship during its voyage home."

Divers also found three large and 11 small incense burners and a tea pot. The heaviest weighed about 10kg. Delicate dragon heads, the symbol of royal power, are engraved on all of the incense burners as well as the lid and handle of the pot.

The cannons have been lying in the gardens of the ship owners for more than two months. Responsible organizations have done nothing about the wreck and the finds since they were discovered.

A diver, whose name was withheld, said the wreck was about 30m long and 4m wide. A thin layer of copper covered the hull. Local antique hunters frequently visited the ship. They might hide artifacts they find in another area marked on their charts, retrieving them when the opportunity arises. — VNS "
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#30 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 01:39 AM

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Unique - Triple Barrel Chinese Hand/Pole Cannon!

A Fantastic and unique iron Chinese Handgonne Pole cannon in pristine condition! This rare find is 13.75 inches long (35 cm). The weight is 6 lbs. and the bore sizes are 17/18 mm. This cannon was in use for 3 - 400 years as it was refitted in the distant past for use with percussion caps! Originally these were fired by inserting a red hot wire in the touch hole and were called a "San Yan Tong"!
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang




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