We are in awe of the recent Chinese technological achievement and it seems we lost the sight of all their inventions from the past and which are part of our daily life today. Here is a list of the 5 Chinese inventions which made in our daily life excluding the Four Great Inventions: paper-making, the compass, gunpowder and printing.
Paper currency – was first developed in China during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). The paper currency was invented from the practical reason as merchants wanted to avoid the heavy bulk of copper coinage in large commercial transactions. The paper currency was further developed during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), when they authorised sixteen private banks to issue notes The earliest paper currency was limited to certain regions and could not be used outside specified bounds, but once paper was securely backed by gold and silver stores, the Song Dynasty government initiated a nationwide paper currency. Today you can see one of the earliest banks in Pingyao.
Toothbrush – made from pig bristle. During the Ming Dynasty and reign of the Hongzi Emperor the bristle toothbrush was used in the court and it wasn’t mass produced until much later. Then the toothbrush invention was sold to William Addis of Clerknewell in London and the rest of history.
Porcelain – Although glazed ceramics existed before, S.A.M. Adshead writes that the earliest type of vitrified, translucent ceramics that could be classified as true porcelain was not made until the Tang Dynasty (618–907). Nigel Wood states that true porcelain was manufactured in northern China from roughly the beginning of the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century, while true porcelain was not manufactured in southern China until about 300 years later, during the early 10th century. Prof. Robert K.G. Temple has written that archaeological finds has pushed the dates back to as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220).
Tea – likely originated in southwest China during the Shang dynasty as a medicinal drink during the 2nd century BC. Tea drinking was already an established custom in the daily life and used as a drink instead of a medicinal herb by the 1st century BC. Tea was first introduced to Portuguese priests and merchants in China during the 16th century. Drinking tea became popular in Britain during the 17th century when the British introduced tea production, as well as tea consumption, to India, in order to compete with the Chinese monopoly on tea.
Silk – It is silkworms that naturally create silk, however, it is Chinese people that invented how to harvest the silk and the production is called sericulture. The oldest silk, which was found in Henan Province, came from the Chinese Neolithic period and dates to around 3,630 BC. Silk excavated from the Liangzhu culture site in Zhejiang Province date to roughly 2570 BC. In ancient China, silk was not only a vital invention for life but also a bridge connecting China to the outside world. The 2,000-year-old Silk Road is still an important path for cultural, commercial and technological exchange between East and West.