Four Great Inventions: Intro

In modern times, the Chinese get a bad rap for ripping-off the wares of other, more inventive people. Fake Louis Vuitton handbags, anyone? This is truly unfortunate, and even the Chinese themselves would willingly admit to it. There is even a good deal of jokes among Chinese young people built around the phrase “Made in China”. The Chinese, being the good-humored people that they are, still have the humility to laugh at themselves from time to time.

Despite this recent culture of “fakeness” (there are reasons for this that should be saved for a future article), there was a time in not so distant history when the Chinese were renowned along the Silk Road for their inventive contributions to the world. 

The premier contribution and namesake of the road itself, silk, though certainly a great contribution, is not an invention per se as it is of course made by silkworms. The Chinese know this and wouldn’t claim silk as an invention. In fact, they are quick to point out that it was the laughable Romans that journeyed to China in search of “silk trees” from which silk could be harvested.

Silly Europeans! Silk is from worms!

At any rate, the Chinese are historically a rather inventive bunch, and so over the next few weeks we’ll look at four of their greatest inventions. Stay tuned…


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