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Proprietary Issues in 17th century China: technology, culture and beyond
(Dagmar Schäfer, Head of Independent Research Group, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science,


The assumption that proprietary issues with regard to craftwork played only a marginal role in Chinese society relies on the perception by historians of a lack of a judicial or state protection system. Moreover, economic historians as well as historians of labor history and technology saw craftsmen and artisans as occupying a level too low in the social hierarchy to be able to protect their work or skills and thus also inventions and innovative products. Conversely the Chinese state is often considered able to access at will all kinds of „useful“ knowledge, irrespective of any individual’s claim to ownership, limited only by natural conditions and functional restrictions.

Addressing topics such as the notion of expertise, the participation of craftsmen and scholars in the making of knowledge, state power and the individual’s quest for sustenance, this paper proposes an enlarged view to the field of history of science and technology and the study of the Chinese way of defining, making, appropriating and circulating knowledge. With a focus on seventeenth century China, a period that was significantly shaped by an increasing commodification and commercialization of society, it looks at expressions of owning and controlling knowledge, and proprietary notions on invention and innovation.

Among the many stories discussed in the Han Wu ku shih Yi 漢武故事“ of the 1century CE (a source attributed to Ban Gu,) one refers to how Emperor Wudi built and decorated his palace. Assembling the craftsmen and the materials, he gave orders for trees of jade to be erected in the front hall, with branches made of red coral, leaves fashioned from green jade, flowers and seeds, carved from red and blue minerals. Precious stones, hollowed out like little bells, hung on these trees and tinkled from the brush of air whenever a person passed by. The source also venerates a craftsman of the principality of Song for having cut jade and ivory into the shape of the leaves of the paper-mulberry tree and praises this craftsman of an earlier age for doing his work with such perfect verisimilitude that the leaves might have been taken for natural products; but as each leaf, so the source adds swiftly, required three years of labor, the philosopher Liezi, ridiculed the craftsman’s vain ability (Petillon, Allusions litteraires, p. 185).

Despite the philosopher’s contempt, jade trees (yupeng), generally arranged in pairs or installed in assembly with other carved stone sculptures, became part of the dowry of wealthy brides, and Chinese emperors would stuff their palaces full of them in the centuries to follow. The splendour of these objects impressed the dynasty’s subjects as much as they nowadays fascinate visitors in museum exhibitions as masterpieces of ancient arts and technological achievement. Jade-trees typified Chinese imperial culture and society in a similar way to a Rolls Royce today – they were a status symbol and exemplified simultaneously a mastery of skills and knowledge about nature and human efforts to get authority over it. Just as a Rolls Royce owner may posess a Renoir, so Ming connoisseurs vied with one another in their ownership of costly examples of crafts as well as their display of works of arts. However much the craftsman, the sooty empirick (Robert Boyle (paracelsus)), was ridiculed by Chinese philosophers in antiquity, there is no doubt that the philosopher cherished and rewarded the artisan’s finest works and products in his world. However much these philosophers refrained from getting engaged with practical knowledge practically, they all were far from disregarding technology’s ultimate importance for state, society and self.
The anecdote of the emperor ordering jade trees provides an ideal illustration of a crucial research topic within the history of science and technology, namely the interrelation of practical and theoretical knowledge or more concretely how technology lives in and from this interrelation. The idealized illustration of the Han Wu gushi designates the ruler as the decision maker, with the overview and great plan. The craftsman, producing things, materializes his knowledge and skills in the sculpture of the tree, and the philosopher adds the theoretical framework and gives his moral evaluation. Through these actors the story addresses the interaction of various forms of knowledge, depicting the philosophical, political, social and religious role and values assigned to them. I suggest that understanding this interaction is crucial to understanding how cultures create and shape their knowledge culture. I would like to provide some insights into how this interplay is expressed in proprietary claims to knowledge and to the particular way in which Chinese actors assigned a place and function to technologies and its products in statecraft, public life or scholarly achievement.

In this context I suggest that Chinese culture brought forth its own idiosyncratic sets of knowledge and subtle strategies of appropriating knowledge. Investigating these sets and strategies gives new impetus to re-examine the assorted factors that affect scientific and technological knowledge in the making. This paper offers a brief overview of this investigation, exemplifying by way of three actors, first the imperial court, then the individual craftsman (who I will discuss in the form he is historically most apparent, namely in his relation to and competition with the state) and finally the scholar-philosopher.

Ruling diverse people over vast distances, the premodern Chinese state employed a variety of tools to align political and economic interests and create unity among its subjects. Transportation systems and postal services, for example, federated north and south physically, while cartography manifested the coherence of east and west emblematically. Since the 10th century the state explicitly venerated education to provide coherence among its elite, and extended its people a common ground by enforcing state ritual practice. At the same time, agricultural endeavor, mining, the exploitation of natural resources and the manufacture of goods, were used to order and frame the empire on the material level. Since the establishment of a central state the hub of these efforts was the emperor with his court advisors. Presiding over a waning and waxing sphere of influence, both politically and intellectually, it was this small group that defined which technology was emblematic to the imperial eye, and which goods and resources commanded state control and enhanced its prestige.
An empire is an artificial construct. Its cohesion depends on the architect’s ability to place the brackets in the spot most needed. One of the most explicit and also most ambiguous brackets applied by a political empire is military technology, defining its spatial identity to the outside and enforcing unity on the inside. Thus most states kept a careful eye on the access to iron and manufacture of weapons, and, in general, also on the education and management of military personnel. The sovereigns of the Chinese cultural space were no exception to this rule, maintaining standing infantry, cavalry and naval forces to protect their borders, and recruiting military guards to quell internal opposition. Thus the state located and appropriated military technology within the state system. Paralleling military organization with its civil apparatus, the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing state held regular exams in practical tasks such as horse-riding and crossbow archery, as well as in military tactics, to be able to select from among the best for military leadership.i These selections were done at the court, thus both theoretical knowledge and practical performance of the military field were considered issues that required direct state control. Staffed with craftsmen of all kinds, the military bases produced their weapons, bows, arches, and swords themselves in situ. Workshops for advanced technologies, and its experts, however, such as the Jesuit missionaries who brought cannon to the Ming court in the late 16th century, or the people who produced explosives, were often kept under the tight and direct control of the emperor and his ministers and their workshops were located next to the capital. Thus the state located some tasks at the center of power while it left others to the regions and in the hands of individuals.
It is a particular feature of Chinese rulers that warfare ranked as just one among many tools for the constitution and preservation of their empire. This is manifestly true for the civilian oriented Han-Chinese Song and Ming dynasty, but also for the Mongolian rulers of the Yuan dynasty and the Manchurian emperors of the Qing dynasty, who were both of nomadic origin with belligerent reputations. Acknowledging the high human and material investment necessary to keep their immense area of influence under control by force, the elites of Chinese empires often favored silk and porcelain to negotiate political control and economic interests across and beyond their country. As one of the most highly valued tributary goods silk bought obedience from the servants of empire (the officials), it served to appease hostile border tribes and it cemented relationships with neighboring realms. Silk literally traded in peace through long periods of Ming and Qing reign on the Asian continent. On a more metaphorical level, porcelain transmitted the reputation of Chinese imperial power far beyond its immediate sphere of geographical influence. Traded as far away as the Arabian world or the states of the European continent, china effectively exported an image of political and cultural identity under an enlightened oriental sovereignty. Within French, Italian, German and British court culture, teacups of whitish caolin clay strengthened the Chinese empire without the need to ever have to approach these countries physically.ii
Picked out from the huge range prevalent in every culture, technologies became imperial by cultural application and definition. iii Ranging from china to silk, coinage to hydraulics, empires recognized the potential power of unifying persuasion and control of technological achievement and claimed it. Frequently this nomination went hand in hand with claims to ownership, sometimes even to the point of exclusivity, as in the case of expropriating metals for coinage production. Exacting tolls, all states from the Song to the Qing monopolized copper and silver production to sustain their monetary system. More often, however, the state chose the easy way, and instead of spending any effort on the technology itself, decreed exacting tolls or taxation of products or production by monitoring distribution and trade, or enforcing duty fees.
Appropriating technologies for imperial purposes, strategies varied from plain material takeovers, such as installing a jade-tree next to the throne of the emperor, to elaborate rhetoric, from direct political interference to the exertion of subtle stimuli. Since the Han dynasty (220 BC- 202 AD) Chinese emperors made hydraulics imperial by including it into politics. Requiring large-scale investments and dense coordination of working processes,; the Song dynasty explicitly appropriated it for the state by depicting its value, both in paintings and in historic-philosophical discourse. In other cases, the state laid claim on technologies more implicitly, for example, by initiating extensive compilation projects to convey imperial identity. Without ever laying an explicit claim to it, almost all dynasties employed art and architecture, intentionally or unintentionally, to display their values to both their elite and commoners.
Little research has been done on the way in which Chinese culture ideologically backed technologies so that they became imperial, and what effect this backing and corresponding socio-political interference had on the development of knowledge within and outside these fields. And in fact, we know almost nothing about how technologies to which the state claimed ownership or which it included into governance related to those that largely remained an individual or private matter.iv For example, technologies such as leather or oil production were all basic to the infrastructure of empire. They supplied its communication system, and greased the wheels of commerce and trade. Yet they remained in the private sector throughout most periods of imperial Chinese history. And they very rarely became an issue of elite or political discourse. While the material effect of this subtle interplay of recognized-versus-unrecognized ‘imperial technologies’ within technological systems is occasionally considered, the impact that its specific texture had on both the culture as a whole and Chinese knowledge landscape as such still needs to be investigated.

Historical research suggests that the relation between a technology and the state was not an ad hoc decision, but the result of long-term processes of selection based on geographical preconditions and socio-political decisions. Climate and soil conditions favored rice cultivation in the South and grain in the North of China.v Ritual and religious techniques, promoting spiritual or ideological unity, were constantly employed by Chinese empires to support such choices -- and again assigned value to such knowledge by giving it state recognition. Within Confucian doctrine Chinese rulers, for example, venerated the appropriate application of agricultural tasks by symbolically incorporating its performance into state rites and despite our notion of constancy, dynastic houses, often even single emperors idiosyncratically varied their tactics for example by paying more or less attention to specific rituals or by at one point featuring issues such as jade production in court discussions and at another point leaving such issues to regional officials.

Much more evident in the historical materials are such assessments and reassessments in administrative reform. Performed at a court workshop, jade carving was a mere court technology, something that satisfied the actual needs and luxury desires of the palace inhabitants. Yet at another time officials and the emperor would feature it as an imperial technology, as a device to enhance the dynasty’s reputation, exhibit political vitality and retain regions by including it in the tributary delivery to neighboring realms. Dynastic organizational structure paid respect to the double function of such technologies by doubling manufacturing institutions according to purpose, one serving palace needs, one manufacturing for official usage.

Although no emperor explicitly distinguished between court and imperial technologies in premodern China as in fact both interests often went well together, their state systems all reveal slight differences of organizational emphasis. During the northern Song, for example, brewery or silk production were all equally situated and performed within the court, indicating that all these issues were central to actual material requirements, maintaining and enhancing the glory of the royal household. Administration such as the Water Mill Office (Shuimo wu 水磨務) or the bureau for astronomical observation (name missing), were situated within the court mainly to underline the great importance that the emperor assigned to them for the organization of the state, not because they accommodated household needs. This included not only manufacturing institutions, but also those which mainly organized tasks that were actually performed throughout the country such as a Directorate for Imperial Manufactories, or the Directorate for Armaments (junqi jian 軍器監). By the Ming Dynasty, in contrast to that, major manufactures of the Central Government were set under the control of Ministries outside the court, namely the Ministry of Public Works (gongbu), the Ministry of Finance (hubu) and of Rites (libu). There, detached from direct imperial interference, they would also be administered during the Qing

Technologies generally served several functions at the same time. Depending on the state’s power and performance, imperial and court technologies could also appear as private enterprise. In fact, the successful implementation of a technology as an imperial one as well as its potential to help form an empire often relied on more than imperial will. And far from exclusive, during most periods, imperial goods, goods of the court, were also simultaneously commercial goods as was the case during the 17th century with tea, copper/brass, or lacquer wares. And yet such developments were never linear and almost never irreversible. Especially in relation to economic developments, we can see that the definition of what was an imperial, court or commercial technology was not a natural given, but subject to individual recognition and purposeful application. Thus copper brass items could only be commercialized as long as the state and private economies prospered on equal terms, while its usage quickly became an issue of imperial control whenever its supply was reduced or its technology served to sculpture unity out of diversity. Equally various high-quality silk products, available to everyone in the 17th century, were again prohibited once the Qing emperors had established their power within Chinese society. And irrigation could persist as the private enterprise of a farming community, and still in the hands of a capable emperor, become a meaningful device to claim his right to his empire.
The world of Han wudi had, if we want to believe Chinese historiography, assigned authority clearly among its various actors. Those who lived in the palaces were the rulers, those who built the palaces were ruled. Locating the knowledge, however, is not so simple. The rulers claiming to have the knowledge of the greater framework might choose the emblems of power and status symbols such as the jade trees, yet, the possessor of the knowledge to construct the mighty ruler’s status symbol was the craftsman.
The preservation and protection of his abilities and knowledge must be seen as the survival strategy of craftsmen in all cultures. Despite the crude idea of many historians that craftsmen had no power, most of them were unwilling to transmit their skills or reveal all secrets of their crafts unless they received some benefit from it. And, as in other cultures, empires could fall when the rulers disregarded this fact. Prosperity grew not merely out of the land; it also required the craftsman’s hand. That craftsmen were more than lambs to be slaughtered by a mighty regime, became most evident when the state increasingly engaged in craft manufacture by the Song and especially by the Yuan and Ming dynasties. During these two dynastic periods, the Chinese rulers explicitly claimed rights to craftsmen skills and their performance. They recruited men on levy and did not allow them to change profession. And yet the rulers of this vast space were often forced to realize the best goods were not always produced in their manufacture, which indicates the craftsmen did not always cooperate. Talented craftsmen were not willing to give their products to the court for free or for dubitable privileges. And as an assorted number of official report manifests, quality suffered considerably when craftsmen were put under pressure.

Chinese scholars were sympathetic to this logic and thus high statesmen such as Wang Anshi urged the abolishment of the service labor. Wang Anshi suggested the craftsmen should be recruited and paid for their work instead. In the year 1485 the Ming state also returned to tax payments in cash so as to avoid craftsmen taking flight or delivering deficient products. Though it is often overlooked that this ruling actually worsened the problem, because all capable craftsman could now escape from their levy service officially. If they were rich enough, they paid and thus the state could also not profit from their knowledge. In 1529 with the single-whip reform it was finally decided that all levy service would be changed into tax payments and capable craftsmen would be recruited on demand and paid what they deserved. The emergence of free markets of labor must be seen as a direct outcome of this reform. This is the actual origin of the increasing commercialization of goods during the 17th century and it is also indicative of a change in knowledge culture.

Commercialization is generally seen as a factor that frees knowledge, which was once only controlled by the state. However, with commercialization, more actors also lay claim on knowledge and trying to make best use of it, they also attempted to make it their exclusive property. Thus whenever commercialization took place in Chinese history, traditions of owning, appropriating and rejecting knowledge changed. This is particularly evident in the way in which the relation between the manufactured good and the maker is identified at a specific time in a specific place.

One important issue in is the way in which products are marked and originality is claimed. Since antiquity Chinese craftsmen had occasionally put marks on their products. In its beginnings this was often just an issue of organizing production, for example, potters used marks to identify their products when they put them in the oven. Bronzes, however, were from early on signed with crude signatures so as to identify its maker or its owner. In the case of identifying the maker, the mark probably was mainly there to guarantee quality; but we must also see that such marks evidently attach person and object to each other. Chinese imperial states soon learnt to exploit the craftsmen practice of marking objects for their own benefit, counting taxes according to naming on porcelain wares or on the bricks that people had to deliver for the building of city walls. While craftsmen during the Tang dynasty applied marks quite freely, the Song state interfered directly into this practice and thus we can distinguish during this period between wule gongming, carving of craftsmen names and wule guanming carving of the officials who were responsible for production. In this way the relationship of person-object was redefined, as the claims on knowledge subtly shifted from the craftsman to the official or back as the craftsmen demanded it.

The history of craftsman marks in China, its linkage to the individual and relation to the state has hitherto received little attention by historians of science, technology, or economy. They have assumed the wule gongming-system, as the carving of craftsman names is called with reference to a passage in the Lunyu, mainly served the state as an administrative tool to govern quality and to gauge consumer demand. Even if products were marked, argue historians of art, it was by the state . Nianhao - a year mark- manifested the empire’s right to the products. And yet, a closer look at markings even of this kind reveals that the story is not so simple, craftsmen used and misused, interpreted and reinterpreted marks in all possible ways to reset the relation between the work and its maker. Assumingly they soon refrained from marking products with individual craftsmen’s names (lacquer wang Ming). Instead however, craftsmen applied more subtle methods to give their wares a distinct face, by combining design and decorative elements. The fact that craftsmen were more than a grey mass, with the best of them known by name, is also exemplified in the story mentioned in the beginning. Here also the craftsman, the jade carver, is in the end not just someone, but identifiably someone from the Song state.

Official as well as private accounts offer a considerable amount of source material which indicates that Chinese craftsmen were recognized as individuals and that these individuals knew how to enhance their reputation even if they worked in lower crafts. The shuijing zhu 水經注 of the Tang Dynasty gives the example of a shoemaker (cobbler) named Zheng Fu 嘯父 in Jizhou 冀州 who had customers from far away because his skills were so extraordinary.vii His shoes were exceptional and best among many.

Which knowledge Chinese craftsmen had and how this contributed to the making of scientific thinking in the Chinese world is another issue that in my view requires more attention. Going back to the story of emperor Wu, the craftsman can be discerned as more than simply the working hand. Giving shape to an almost true copy of the mulberry leaves, he engaged with nature and gained knowledge about it. It was this object that stood in near proximity to the emperor and shaped his view of what a mulberry tree should look like. The natural starting point to look for the craftsman’s contribution are thus his artifacts, preserved in connoisseur collections by scholars who combined interests in artifacts with literary efforts.
And this brings us to my last point, a closer look at the Chinese literati who dominating the historical view of scientific and technological endeavor in their written art shaped the paradigms that, constituting solid historical markers, vitally affected technology’s role in society, thought within their own time, and our contemporary view of it.
The Chinese erudite class included technology into written culture in two major ways. As officials, responsible for the administration of the state and daily life on the practical level, they communicated and documented the efficient performance of technologies and products, or the lack thereof; as scholars, scrutinizing things and events, ideas and consequences, they discussed technology and its role within the concept of and relationship between nature, heaven, and man. Combining both obligations, they accommodated philological and philosophical interests with political and administrative commitment and gave technologies a distinctive face within written culture. Thus even mundane state correspondence, book-keeping or regulation handbooks (zeli), all blunt in content and unadorned in style, were compiled in the awareness of philologically correct wording. Exchanging prescriptions, advice, warnings and praises, scholar-officials linked pragmatic necessities to classical texts and historical precedents to invoke reliability and set ultimate standards.
The text Kaogong ji 考工記 [Artificers Record] and its historical reception are representative of this. Dated to the 2nd century BC, the Kaogong ji was affiliated to one of the major classics of Confucian statecraft the Zhou Li (Rites of the Zhou) and thus integral to a trajectory of political discourse, which exemplifies the place of crafts within state organization. Although learned men of the Song had already identified its incorporation to the Zhou Li as dubious, the scholarly world of the 15th and 16th century still augmented this source, using it to authorize the Ming dynastic inclusion of craft manufacture into their central administration. And during the late 17th and early 18th century several scholars, such as Dai Zhen (1724-1777) enshrined their concern with practical learning, and technological efforts within an idealized past by referring to the Kaogong ji.
As in most other cultures, we can assume much of what was entailed within technology was traditionally only “known” by actually practicing it with one’s own hands and body; people such as Xu Guangqi 徐光啓 (1562-1633) paid tribute to this fact by engaging themselves with agricultural tasks. References by scholars “to say that they did things themselves” and thus provided reliable knowledge are indicative of a changing view of the source that authorizes knowledge, and the way in which Chinese culture allows facts to be facts and beliefs to be considered as beliefs.
It would be worthwhile to think of Chinese scholars as more than simply the stereotype elevated scholar in his long gown. Even those who avoided the impression of being personally concerned with craftwork were familiar with contemporary technology and its management. And as such it provided and incentive to their thinking. During the Song, for example, the elite still produced many necessities within its own households and thus was directly concerned with agricultural tasks, irrigation, food processing and textile production. When this knowledge increasingly moved into the public sphere towards the end of the Ming, scholars had to engage with it as part of their administrative obligations, managing local manufacturing sites or the acquisition of goods for the state. Within these parameters framework, we can assume that the Chinese elite grasped much of technology’s contents.

And yet, looking at their writing, I suggest we make a clear distinction between the technology that happened in China at a particular moment and in a particular space and the writing about it.

Including technological knowledge within written discourse was more than a matter of knowing “how” a technique was performed or “how” a technology worked or was managed.viii Whenever scholars started to reflect on craft knowledge in written culture, attempting to reproduce the actual activity, verbal instructions or its processes, devices and end products, they faced the intellectual challenge of transforming the knowledge from one medium to another – in the case of writing - a medium that had distinct requirements and applied meanings and contexts. Authors had to verbalize and spell out what was generally left unsaid. They had to carefully select what needed to be written down, and in which way. Drafting concepts, creating contents and coining words, Chinese men of letters also decided on the purpose of their works and their targeted readership, affecting technological information depending on their epistemological background and their view to the background of their clientele. And thus like the craftsmen, scholars created idiosyncratic artworks, jade trees of written language.
With the aim of providing comprehensible units of meaning, authors hence considerably enacted on the knowledge. Furthermore they assigned a new value to the knowledge itself, re-framing it so as to make it an eligible issue within elite culture. Considering this knowledge below their actual status and capabilities, authors often invested considerable efforts to authorize their interests within or outside acknowledged schemes. So, with their detailed descriptions of agricultural tasks, hydraulic engineering, architectural endeavor or military weaponry, these authors did far more than merely nominate practical knowledge as worthy of written recognition and historical documentation. In their efforts to convince their colleagues, they often modeled, intentionally or unintentionally, unique icons for a whole sphere of knowledge within written culture. (Yingzao fashi)
Initiating publication campaigns under imperial auspice, dynasties deemed scripts on technological knowledge explicitly worthy of their self-image. Governments initiated works such as the Wujing zongyao 武經總要 [Essentials of Military Techniques], published in 1044, to serve as a general point of reference within military endeavor and statecraft. In other cases, subsequent generations decided on the role and place of technological issues within historical evolution, by including it into or excluding it from the lines of written transmission. The Qing imperial manuscript library Siku quanshu 司庫全書, for example, installed the Xin Yixiang fayao 新儀像法要 [New Essential Rules for Observing Constellations] as a significant feature of the historiographic picture of the Song. First printed in 1172, this text delineated the mechanical heart and embellishment of the Kaifeng water-powered astronomical clock. Incorporating this script into their imperial book collection, the last Chinese dynasty furthermore indicated its own interest in and persevering obligation towards astronomical knowledge and its mechanical engineering.

Outright references to techniques, or descriptions of technologies were often anticipated and accompanied by much more subtle strategies to bring technological endeavor and the knowledge contained in it to the fore of scholarly activity. Philosophy, for example, gave differing weights to technical, administrative and creative ability within cultural evolution, and thus altered technology’s place within nature and thought. Politics, for example, slightly shifted the emphasis on protagonists and thus allocated and relocated technology’s function within society. Society and individuals varied their notice of things and events, new and old, defining and redefining their significance for historical evolution. In due consideration to such developments scribes fashioned biographical accounts about craftsmen, artisans and engineers or on scholars, philosophers and politicians. They venerated practical knowledge or brushed such skills and talents aside; they gave technical products and technological events a history and noted regional diversity in Chinese material culture or conspired to silence.

The scholar’s artful performance set the stage and defined the atmosphere for developments thereafter. Among the many art forms of Chinese scholarly culture, writing thus probably exerted the most notable and lasting influence on technological knowledge in China , vitally shaping China’s premodern culture of invention and innovation and our view of it today. It is one of the abundant sources that Chinese culture offers to look into proprietary issues within its knowledge system, to understand scientific and technological thought within Chinese culture and beyond.
I conclude by returning to the anecdote of the Han Wu gushi yi. Telling the story of a ruler, Ban Gu carefully recounted the various components that make a complete set, giving view to his ideal of a harmonized society and the knowledge within it. This story tells us that although technology is not always the star on the stage, it was and is always present. It was recognized and dealt with in its various functions and roles, its power and impact on society, state and self. Appropriated and owned as a body of fact and hypothesis, the product of specific labor, or a belief by craftsmen, or scholars, emperors or farmers, it constituted a vital part of the complex texture that made up Chinese knowledge culture. The investigation and understanding of how knowledge in its various forms was perceived and arranged in its own time, -- how technology as an object of knowledge contributed to these various forms -- and the making of scientific knowledge, are all crucial points of research within the Chinese history of science and technology.

i Military organization in China

ii Headrik, The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the 19th century. New York: Oxford University Press 1981 p. 206

iii Francesca Bray, “Towards a critical history of Non-Western technology”, in China and historical capitalism: genealogies of Sinological Knowledge by T. Brook, Gregory Blue, pp. 158-209, p. 164 FN

iv Bray

v Bray Rice economy

vi Printing for profit

vii Li Daoyuan 酈道元. Chap. 10


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