Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Song Yingxing -- Great Scientist and Writer of Tian Gong Kai Wu

Song Yingxing (1587 -- 1666) was a great scientist and a loyal official in the history of China. 

 

He and his brother’s life experiences were representatives of those talented and loyal people living in the end of the Ming Dynasty

Song Yingxing's Happy Early Life

 

Song Yingxing was born into an ordinary family and had a happy childhood.

 

He and his brother went to school together; they were both very smart kids and highly appreciated by their teachers.

 

Then they participated in the Imperial Examination of their province, Song won the third place while his brother won the sixth.

 

They were very happy and participated in the National Imperial Examination for several times, but they all failed. 

 

Great Scientist Song and His Masterpiece Tian Gong Kai Wu

Therefore, Song Yingxing and his brother decided to take political positions that the government assigned them, which were based on their scores in the province’s examination.

 

Song worked as a teacher for four years, when most of his important books were written during this period, including Tian Gong Kai Wu.

 

This book documented over 130 detailed technologies of agriculture and manufacture in the history of China, comprehensively; most of the contents were first hand information and combined with explicit illustration.

 

The name of the book means human using specific technology to exploit wealth from the nature, which was also the fundamental philosophy and purpose of his works.

 

Song Yingxing was honored as one of the greatest scientists after having written this excellent technical encyclopedia in the history of China.

 Tian Gong Kai Wu Printed in Ming Dynasty

Song Yingxing's books impressed other officials of the Ming Empire and were soon published the second edition.

 

Then he and his brother both got promoted for several times because of their good performances.

 

Ending of Empire Ming, Song Yingxing and His Family

After the Ming Empire’s last emperor Zhu Youjian committed suicide, Song quitted his job.

 

Soon, another king from Ming’s royal clan organized another Ming government in the southern China, Song Yingxing and his brother both planned to move southward to serve this new empire.

 

However, their province was occupied by the Nomadic Manchu army soon. 

 

When Manchu's army marched into his city, Song Yingxing’s brother committed suicide.

 

Song escaped away and refused to serve the new empire; he then lived in seclusion and poverty.

 

He never let his sons get educated, who both lived as normal peasants since then. 

 

Those Buried, Ruined Masterpieces 

A few years later, Manchu emperors found that Song Yingxing and his brother had written many articles that were disrespect to their Qing Dynasty, so they destroyed and banned all of their books.

 

Together with many other exceptional masterpieces, their books and glorious ideas were all burnt into dust.

 

Ironically, some of Song Yingxing’s masterpieces were spread and well preserved in Japan and some other countries.

 

This remarkable technical encyclopedia Tian Gong Kai Wu spread back to China until the Qing Dynasty was ended three hundred years later, when people finally got to know this great scientist in the history of China. 

 

Song Yingxing finished most of his great books only within the first four years when he was working as a teacher; soon the chaos, wars and perishing of the Ming Dynasty made him stopped his scientific researches.

 

No one could know what else he would have achieved if the society was stable, or the changing of dynasties were not that cruel.