A Seafaring Nation
China’s seafaring tradition
China has a very old seafaring tradition. Already in the Han Dynasty (25-220 AD) Chinese ships sailed to India. In the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) the Chinese invented the compass and two other great inventions that has shaped the course of global civilisation, gunpowder and printing.
The compass made the Chinese sailors able to navigate also in the night when the sky was cloudy, and in 1117 AD the author Zhu Yu wrote in his book "Pingzhou Ke Tan" (Pingzhou Table Talks) “The navigator knows the geography, he watches the stars at night, watches the sun at day; when it is dark and cloudy, he watches the compass”
Other inventions of Chinese shipbuilders are the stern post rudder, fore-and-aft sails and boats with paddlewheels. To keep the ships from sinking watertight compartments below decks were built. Some boats were armour plated for protection. All these developments made long distance navigation possible.