Carriages date back approximately 4,600 years in China. In the Shang Dynasty (16th to 11th centuries BCE) two wheel carriages and characters for the different components of carriages appeared, including wheels with spokes, carriage boxes (yu), shaft (yuan), transverse bar, and yolk (e). These are substantiated by archaeological finds of elaborate two wheeled carraiges. High chassis carriages appeared in the Warring States Period (770-221 BCE). These sometimes included a small tower on top. The spokes of the carriage wheels connected at hubs. Four wheeled carriages appeared in the Eastern Han (25-220 CE). During the Northern and Southern Dynasties large carriages driven by 12 oxen appeared. This is documented in the History of the Later Wei (后魏书). In the Liang Dynasty (502-557 CE) carriages around 100 feet tall appeared.
The south pointing cart, shown below, was invented in the Three Kingdoms period. It used a system of gears and a compass to keep a figure on a pole pointing south.
The square-pallet chain pump (龙骨水车 “dragon back water wheel”or 反车) was one of the most widely known ancient Chinese irrigation devices. According to the History of the Later Han Dynasty (后汉史) it was invented in the Eastern Han (25-220). This is well before our parade in the Northern Wei. It could be driven by 1 to 2 humans using pedals and, later, animal, wind or water, and was widely used. The pump consists of a trough with wooden boards 13-23 centimeters wide mounted on rails. The rails with wooden boards forming the dragon’s backbone.
Institute of the History of Natural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2009. Ancient China’s Technology and Science. Foreign Languages Press. ISBN 978-7-119-05754-5.
Last edited on June 1, 2012