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Shipbuilding in Ancient China


  Yuan DynastyPaves the Way for Shipbuilding Climax

In the early years of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), there were more than 17,900 navy warships. The Yuan emperors would usually order thousands of warships to be built for a battle. Besides, there were a great many civil ships scattered all over the country. Meanwhile, Arabs' shipbuilding and navigation gradually declined. Therefore, Chinese four-mast sea boats could be seen on the Southern Sea and the Indian Ocean, taking the lead in navigation and shipbuilding.

The huge development in shipbuilding during the Yuan Dynasty laid an advantageous foundation for the building of five-mast warships, six-mast guest ships, seven-mast grain ships, eight-mast horse ships (which carried horses), and nine-mast precious ships (which carried valuable cargo) during theMing Dynasty.

 Third Shipbuilding Climax -- during the Ming Dynasty

A model of the warship used by Zheng He

China's shipbuilding reached its third climax during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when an unprecedented number of ships were built by employing the well-developed shipbuilding technologies of the Tang and Song dynasties.

According to some archeological discoveries and historical records, the distribution and scale of the Ming Dynasty's shipbuilding yards represented the highest level in Chinese shipbuilding history. The main shipbuilding yards included the Longjiang Shipyard inNanjingof East China'sJiangsu Province, the Qingjiang Shipyard in Huainan of East China'sAnhui Province, and the Beiqinghe Shipyard in East China's Shangdong Province, all of which boasted a large scale. There were handicrafts workshops that produced ship accessories, such as sails, ropes, and nails, to go with the shipbuilding industry. In addition, there was also a rigorous management system concerning the check, repair, and payment of ships. It was fitting that with such a strong shipbuilding industry,Zheng He' seven voyages to the western sea became possible.

In a word, after the previous two climaxes, shipbuilding in the Ming Dynasty experienced further improvement in shipbuilding technologies. The great achievements in shipbuilding during the Ming Dynasty represented an enormous contribution by the Chinese people to world civilization and human development.

Author: Jessie

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