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Do you know the history of the hourglass?
- Dec 06, 2018 -

The hourglass is said to have been invented by Alexander in the third century, where they sometimes carry it with them, just like the watches that people carry with them today. It is speculated that in the 12th century, at the same time as the advent of the compass, it was invented as an instrument for nighttime sea navigation (in the daytime, sailors can estimate the time based on the height of the sun). The discovery with definite evidence was earlier than the 14th century, and the earliest hourglass was a suitable government in 1338. The fables of the murals in Ambolonzetti appeared in the same period as the hourglass, which appeared in the list of ship shops. The earliest record of the existence is the sales receipt of the literary staff Thomas Stetesham on the English ship "La Giorgio" in 1345.


Since the 15th century, hourglasses have been widely used in the world, in the church, in industry and in cooking. During the voyage of Magellan around the world, each of his ships maintained 18 hourglasses. In the paperwork of the ship, the hourglass is run to provide time for the ship's log.

Before the Jesuits entered China, foreign merchants and missionaries living in Macao had brought the medieval European clock to Macau. The philosophers Michal Rvggier (1543–1607) and Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) came to China in 1581 and 1582 respectively. They not only carried clocks, but also accompanied by watch repairers. The hourglass, the water clock (the water sundial) and the heavy hammer-driven self-timer commonly used by Europeans were also introduced to China. After the hourglass was introduced to China, it was used as a timer on the maritime. In the twenty-third year of Emperor Qianlong (1758), Zhou Huang wrote "The Ryukyu National History", saying that sailing from Fuzhou to Ryukyu, the ship "one more sixty miles", and using the hourglass to count, "every two leaks have zero more".


In ancient China, a similar thing was invented called "leakage", also called a leaking pot.

The earliest record of the leaked engraving was found in Zhou Li. The most ancient leaks that have been unearthed are the Western Han relics, a total of three, found in Hebei Mancheng, Inner Mongolia Ikezhao League and Shaanxi Xingping. There are two pieces of the more complete pass-through, all of which are water-receiving. The Museum of Chinese History in Beijing was built in the Yuan Dynasty (1316) in the Yuan Dynasty; it was built in the Qing Dynasty by the Palace Museum in Beijing.


The influential hourglass records in ancient Chinese history were found in the 1360 Yuan Dynasty, the five-round hourglass created by the great calligrapher Zhan Xiyuan. Zhan Xiyuan believes that it is too simple to just let the quicksand between the two sand buckets count. The five-wheel hourglass he created created a mechanical gear set that uses the power of quicksand to propel the gear set. Such an hourglass is provided with a time dial, which is engraved with a day of the day, which is equivalent to the clock face of today's clock. There is a pointer at the center of the disk. The pointer is rotated by the axis of the last gear, and the gear rotates to indicate the moment on the timetable. . Zhan Xiyuan also skillfully added a set of mechanical transmissions on the middle wheel. These mechanical devices enabled the two small wooden men on the five-wheel hourglass to turn out and drum their time.


We can see that the structural principle of Zhan Xiyuan's five-wheel hourglass chronograph is exactly the same as that of modern clocks. However, when Zhan Xiyuan was born, the advanced timer was published for 8 years, and the Yuan Dynasty was destroyed. The emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, was also busy with power struggles, and it was impossible to support the development of folk science and technology. This laid the seeds for the later Chinese timers that lag behind the West.


The convenience of the hourglass is that the upper and lower sand buckets can be used upside down. The hourglass also has shortcomings that are difficult to solve. The gravel is easy to block when it flows. However, in the ancient times, the western sandglass used sand has a secret recipe to solve the problem: they first used the marble powder to cook in the wine nine times and smashed the foam. Use it in the sun and dry it to avoid clogging the hourglass. However, the accuracy of the hourglass timing is worse than the drip leak, so it is as common as the drip leak. In addition, the hourglass must use glass containers to see the amount of sand. China's hourglasses are mostly made of pottery, and it is impossible to see how much sand is stored. This may be one of the reasons why hourglass is not as popular in China as in Western countries.


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