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Typical Models of Ancient Chinese Junks

 

Hailed as the country with the longest shipbuilding history in the world, China boasts a variety of wooden boat models, with a total of up to a thousand models by the middle of the 20th century. In ancient times, there were such famous junk (the European word for China's wooden sailboats) models as the Sha-chuan (sand ship), Niao-chuan (bird ship), Fu-chuan (good-fortune ship), and Guang-chuan (wide ship), among which the Sha-chuan, Fu-chuan and Guang-chuan junks were well known both at home and abroad.

  The Sha-chuan Junk

Sand Ship

Originating in Chongming County of East China'sJiangsu Province, the predecessor of Sha-chuan junks can be traced back to theSpring and Autumn Period(770-446BC). The model was named "sand-proofflat-bottom ship" during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and "flat-bottom ship" in theYuan Dynasty(1271-1368). Not until theMing Dynasty(1368-1644) was it called "sand ship".

The sand ship has many laudable characteristics. First, itp is very safe. The flat bottom can prevent the ship from stranding while also helping it to safely sail in wind or waves. Also, due to the flat bottom, the waterline is low, which makes the ship more tide-resistant. Second, the ship, which can sail down or against wind or water, has good navigability. Third, with a large deck and other equipment, the sand ship has the best stability among the ancient ships. Finally, with its many masts and sails, which help to minimize resistance, the sand ship can sail swiftly.

With both the bow (front end) and stern (back end) square-shaped, the sand ship is also called "square boat." It is a typical flat-bottom sailing ship with a low freeboard (the distance between the water and a ship's deck), large deck camber (the arched part of the deck), and a long projecting stern gallery (balcony). Its bow, which is obviously lower than the stern, is convenient for anchoring (as well as pulling anchor) or mooring. Near the waterline, several hardwood logs are fitted to the ship, from bow to stern, to improve its stability. To reduce the ship's lateral drifting when navigating, a leeboard (plank frame) is fitted on each side, which is a symbol of the sand ship.

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