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Famous Inventions of Ancient China

Kashmira Lad
China has many significant and important inventions to its credit. Here's a look at some famous inventions of ancient China.
In this world of fast food and faster cars, have you ever given a thought to the inventors who have enabled you to have an easy life? With the advancement of technology in every sphere of our life, there are probably many things one could never do without, however seemingly small they may sound to be!
China has played a significant part in many famous inventions that have had a major role to play in our lives. These inventions have helped us in many ways, then we can ever think of! Many famous inventions that we can recount today belong to ancient China.

The Compass

The earliest version of the compass was made in China in the year 1044. Mariners use the compass to navigate in the sea. Compass is used to calculate the latitude and the longitude as well. This famous invention has seen many advanced changes along the way.
Basically, a compass is used to find the magnetic North Pole of the Earth. Generally, such a compass has either a needle or a magnetic bar that points towards the north, and such a needle or bar is placed either in floating liquid or upon a pivot.
Today, this invention is modified and one can see many more advanced versions being used by many professions across the globe. One of the earliest known mentions of the compass has been recorded in ancient Chinese literature.

Paper and Papermaking

Paper is also one of the inventions, which is something we can't probably do without today. The process of papermaking was first developed in China. In the earlier years, during the Shang and the Zhou dynasty, any form of documentation was done with the help of bamboo.
Recent findings showcase that paper was being used in China much before the invention by Cai Lun. Cai Lun is regarded to have invented the paper and also the entire process of papermaking.
Cai Lun also played a major role in the improvisation of the process of making paper. Some findings have also revealed paper was used in ancient China to wrap everyday objects.


The method of printing and the invention of woodblock printing are also considered to be Chinese inventions. Woodblock printing was first seen in China in 220 AD. Thereon, it spread to other areas of the world.
The method of printing saw higher advancements by the 11th century. The first example of the movable type method was invented in 1040 AD. Bi Sheng was credited for having invented the ceramic movable type of method for printing. This movable type printing proved to be quite cumbersome at times but was useful when a large number of books were to be printed.


The discovery of gunpowder has been credited to Chinese alchemists around 9th century. This was the result of many scientific experiments. There were various formulas that were used and these contained different proportions of nitrate. The first recorded reference of the gunpowder was found in a passage of a Taoist text. This was dated to the mid 800s AD. The gunpowder was used not only for fireworks but its mentions were found in the Chinese military treatise as well.


The Chinese can be considered to be experts when it comes to the usage of chopsticks. It is no surprise therefore, the chopstick first originated during the Shang dynasty. Early findings of chopsticks at the Mediggo site in Israel reveal about the kind of trade that may have existed between Middle East and Asia.

Bristle Toothbrush

Oral hygiene was perhaps very important to the Chinese. Prior to the bristle toothbrush, one can cite references that showed other means of oral hygiene such as certain tree twigs or bird feathers, which were used to keep one's teeth clean. The first idea of a toothbrush was first seen in China in the late 1400's.
These inventions will probably have you thinking about the importance of the supposedly insignificant things in our lives! They surely have proven to be a boon to us in many ways.