Originally Posted by unbusted67
As for the quote ("In every way, whether for navigation
, or steering
, Europeans were dependent upon Chinese ideas in order to be capable of the Great Voyages of Discovery.")
about the Europeans relying on the Chinese for sailing innovation I am pretty sure (without a trip to the encyclopedia) that that is an inflammatory statement aimed more at captivating the reader than informing him. There is a book "1421 The Year China Discovered The Real World" which makes similar claims. In my opinion these books
are more aimed at getting China's roll in world history
out of the dusty recesses of the historical hinterlands. Which isn't an altogether valueless pursuit but one that, judging by these two works, could use a little tempering.
I agree that the statement is a very bold one, and not one that I feel comfortable with!
Especially if I am going to be presenting the material to the other docents, who may use it in their own tours. I don't consider it inflammatory, because he does give dates for Chinese evidence that is consistent with his statement: Rudder
first century AD, Leeboards 759 AD, Mariner's compass
1117 AD, multi-masted ships 260 AD. He also gives earliest dates for the Western innovations.
Actually, now that I read more carefully, he may not be claiming that the Europeans got the ideas from the Chinese, just that the Chinese had the idea first. And that when the Europeans started using them, great voyages were made.
I did read "1421: the Year China discovered America," but I consider that book too speculative for my purpose. But it was a fun read!
I have discovered that Temple's book is a popularization of Joseph Needham's "Science and Civilization in China." a twenty-five volume work, in the process of publication by Cambridge University Press. I am going to see if I can find a copy of Needham's work locally.
But discounting any possible Chinese contribution to Western sailing, the fact remains that the Chinese built the Grand Canal, which is over 1,000 miles long.
One of the factoids that I was told was that an important factor in the prosperity of Suzhou (Portland's sister city, famous for their gardens) was that rice went from a single
to a twice annual crop. But what could be the use of doubling the rice crop, without a good means to ship it?
I think that there is certainly an interesting story to tell of how boats contribute to the art form of the classical Chinese garden! I am just not sure exactly what it is yet!
So, my own bias is not East against West, it is landsman against sailor!