Studies on the History of Metrology Development in China and the West
Konrad Herrmann and Guan Zeng-jian
Technological characteristics in the comparison of the metrological development in China and the West
Technology is the basis of metrology. The developments of metrology in China and the West on the background of different technologies followed different ways. The differences of technologies in the development of metrology in China and the West can be observed in the used materials, the underlying technologies and the products in form of measuring devices and standards. Whereas in the West metrological standards were made from a great variety of materials, in China very early bronze was recognized as the best suited material. The highly developed bronze casting technology in China also enabled the creation of combined metrological standards. In the West the forging technology of iron was preferred guaranteeing a high strength.
In China, the metrological standards were kept in the imperial court and in central points of the provinces. In medieval Europe the political power was exerted by the church and increasingly by the trading towns. Therefore metrological standards were mounted on the wall of churches or of the town hall.
Of great importance were the clocks on the church towers which defined a local time. In China with clock or drum towers the time was distributed to the society. In the field of time metrology, both Europe and China used sundials. Whereas in Europe more sandclocks were used, in China one was versed to use clepsydras. The invention of the pendulum and the escapement in Europe finally raised the accuracy of mechanical clocks to a higher level than Chinese clepsydras.
Besides the important role of technology the development of metrology still needs strict administration. As a united country China began a legalized administration of metrology very early.
Until the beginning of the Ming dynasty China was the leading country worldwide in science and technology. On the other hand, since the Renaissance in Europe mathematics, experimental physics and the observation technique had developed fastly. In the era of discoveries and industrial revolution Europe had overtaken China and acquired a dominant position. Metrology began to develop to a world science.
Jie Ren and He Zhaoquan
A Preliminary Research on the Relation between Agriculture and Time Metrology in Traditional Society of China
Farming season is an old-line concept in China, referring to the time suitable for each farm work such as planting, ploughing, harvesting and more. Farming season is the main intersection of agriculture and time metrology. However, time metrology did not originate from the need of determining farming season. Its source is earlier and has a vast cultural connotation, mainly related with arrangements of life and belief. This connotation had a profound impact on the notion of farming time. Due to the instability of meteorological environment and other reasons, it was scientific to select right season according to plant phenology, and using precise time measurement to express farming season was actually the result of cultural traditions that sought luck and avoided calamity. In ancient agriculture literatures represented by Qiminyaoshu (《齐民要术》), the methods to designate farming season are flexible and diverse, including the ways according to climate, soil, crop growth, phenology and also time metrology. Traditionally, the mainstream in using time metrology was to set farming season in months, and the tradition of solar terms has experienced a gradual popularization process. Over the same period after Han dynasty, the records in ancient agriculture literatures experienced a development process from superstition to reality. The time metrology within a day in ancient rural areas was much cruder than cities, but this does not mean that the rhythm of agricultural production must be slow and constant. A large number of poems about treasuring time prove that hard-working was an important virtue related with agricultural production in traditional Chinese society. In obsolete impression, ancient peasants got up together everyday with the rise of sun , and slept together with the fall of sun. But in fact there are some records reveal that they also worked at night, especially when they worked on animal husbandry and textile industry. How to select the farming season in a scientific way still needs to be studied urgently in new era. How to inherit and carry forward the research path of the phenology which the predecessors opened up is an important issue that Chinese researchers must solve.
The Transformation of Manchu’s Metrology During the Early Qing Dynasty
At the beginning of Nurgaci reign, the Manchu society was still a tribal society, they used primitive measurement to count. As the Manchu nation was forming and the communication with Han people was increasing, the Manchu’s metrology formed which mixed with the metrology of Ming dynasty and their own tradition. After conquered the territory of Ming dynasty, the Qing government kept the different metrology systems outside and inside ShanhaiGuan. Kangxi Emperor unified the metrology in Qing territory by using the law of Bamboo Pith-Pipes and Lei shu(乐律累黍说). Qianlong Emperor continued to go back to the Confucian Classics to develop the metrology. The transformation of Manchu’s metrology demonstrated the development of Manchu society and the communication between Confucian culture and Manchu culture.
A Study on Li Xu’s（李煦）Criminal Case about the Serious Tax Deficit in Sliver and Grain in the Qing Dynasty
Being one of Emperor Kangxi’s(康熙) favorite ministers，Li Xu（李煦）has served as the charge of weaving in Suzhou（苏州织造）and transferring salt in Huainan and Huaibei（两淮盐运使）for a long time in the Emperor Kangxi Era. As soon as Emperor Yongzheng (雍正) ascended the throne, Li Xu was arrested for a serious tax deficit in sliver and grain. Based on the view of metrological management, the paper studies the ins and outs of the criminal cases according to the historical material and metrological system in the Qing Dynasty. The paper draws a conclusion that Li Xu’s criminal case involved major matters of metrological standard, management and practice in the Emperor Kangxi Era. The true cause lay not only in the fact that the difference between government standard and local standard, but also lack of metrological management. The criminal cases shows that though the government promulgated the strict standard, the metrological practice was complicated.
The Study on the Transmission of Traditional Chinese Metrological Knowledge Spread to Japan
Chinese traditional metrology imposed a far-reaching influence to its neighboring countries during its own development. The development of metrology in Japan , one of the country in the Chinese-character circle, has been affected by Chinese traditions since ancient times. The paper, by consulting huge amount of relevant Japanese and Chinese primary and secondary sources, summarizes the influence of Chinese metrology in various stages on its Japanese counterpart in terms of traditional science and technology exchanges.Taihōrituryō, charted in 701 A.D, is the first basic code in ancient Japan, which is a compilation of such ancient regulations and laws in Japan since 7th century as Ōmiryō, Tenmuryō with certain amendments, supplementary and revisions. The paper analyses the connections between two different metrological systems in Japan and China through a comprehensive comparison between Taihōrituryō and The Tang Dynasty law system. Moreover, Japanese metrological system boasts its own features as well as corresponding Chinese characteristics. Shakkan-hō can be considered as a typical example, a system embedded with remarkable Japanese features. In this system, Shaku is regarded as length unit while Kan is an original mass unit in Japan which equals to “Jin”in Chinese units system. The traditional industry in Japan, according to Ei Rokusuke, a Japanese scholar, will not be well-developed without employing Shakkan-hō. Therefore, the paper examines the differences and similarities between Chinese and Japanese traditional metrology with a case study of Shakkan-hō, and carries out a comprehensive analysis of the changes in metrology in Edo period. Plus, the paper conducts an overview of the systemization and development of Japanese traditional metrology under the influence of its Chinese counterpart in terms of social construction, ideology and culture.
On the Historical Development of Chinese Metrology
Chinese metrology could be divided into two types in general. One is traditional metrology and the other is modern metrology. The period of traditional metrology in China could be divided into some stages. The forming stage of it is from far ancient to the time when Emperor Qin Shihuang unified China. The need to satisfy the socialized production and the running of the original state machinery sprouted the primary metrology. The second stage of it is the Han Dynasty. It is a period of development and maturation of the traditional Chinese metrological theory. The third stage is a stage for alteration and development, which lasted for about 1500 years. Under the impact of social alteration and the restraints by traditional theory, the system of weights and measures changed greatly and developed gradually in that period. At the same time, metrological science developed greatly in the period. From the end of the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty, the traditional Chinese metrology experienced the stage of transition. But the transition did not leads to the modernization of it for the reason of the Qing government itself.
In the period of the Republic of China (1912-1949), the traditional Chinese metrology went to its end. The symbolic matter in the period was that the government then decreed the Law on Weights and Measures and made great effort to bring it into effect. The system of weights and measures didn’t achieved standardization in China in that stage but it declared the death of the theory and the system of traditional Chinese metrology.