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8 Things You Didn’t Know Came from China

China is considered one of the earliest civilizations in the world. Aside from tea, the Chinese have contributed a lot more inventions that are still widely used today.

Here are some things you didn’t know were invented by the Chinese:


1. Paper

Who would have thought that the invention and idea of paper came from China? This is all thanks to the Chinese court official Ts’ai Lun, accredited for the invention of paper in 105 AD. He created it by mixing mulberry bark, hemp, and rags with water, mashing it into pulp while pressing out the liquid and hanging the thin mat to dry in the sun. 


2. Ketchup

The word “ketchup” is said to come from the Hokkien Chinese word, kê-tsiap, which was a sauce derived from fermented fish. Invented in the 17th century, it was created by experimenting with pickled fish and spices, and it was eventually exported to Indonesia and Malaysia. There, they were discovered by English explorers, who later added tomato to the sauce’s recipe in 1805 when they returned to their home and shared it with their people.


3. Umbrella

The Egyptians might have been the first ever to come up with the concept of parasols with the use of palm leaves, but the Chinese were the first to invent a waterproof umbrella, dating back to 3500 BC. At the time, the Chinese used their newfound invention to keep themselves and the emperor dry when it rained. They also used it to protect themselves from the sun’s rays. Their invention was made from bamboo and oil-paper since oil has proven to repel water.


4. Ice Cream

By just using a frozen mixture of milk and rice, the Chinese were also able to whip up ice cream. Under the instruction of King Tang of the Shang Dynasty, 94 men helped make a dish that consists of buffalo milk, rice, flour, and camphor. It was frozen by packing it into the snow. Here’s another fun fact: It has been said that Marco Polo has even taken the recipe back with him to Europe from his extensive travels in China during the 13th century. 


5. Nail Polish

Having originated in China as early as 3000 BC, the ingredients of the first-ever nail polish included beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, gum arabic, and vegetable dyes. This was later used in Egypt to distinguish societal class by the color of their nails.


6. Soccer

Although there are a lot of countries that claim to have started the sport, there are numerous records that state that China invented the sport more than 2,000 years ago. The ancient Chinese started playing the sport by simply using their feet called, “cuju” during the Han Dynasty. The game’s first mechanics is similar to how we know it today, which involves kicking the ball. Back then, the ball was stuffed with feathers. The ancient Chinese of that era played it in backyards of large mansions and palaces. Professional players, however, trained just to perform for the royal court. 


7. Rocket

Photo from NASA

Even NASA officially stated that China was the first invent the rocket. Since China invented gunpowder during the Tang Dynasty in the 9th century AD, they also begun experimenting with filling up bamboo with arrows filled with gunpowder. They were surprised to discover that the bamboo would launch itself from the escaping gases. With this, the first rocket was born and was later used as a weapon against the Mongols.


8. Card games

The concept of playing cards was created by the royals of Imperial China during the Tang Dynasty and has long been considered its earliest games called the “leaf game.” Some scholars say that this paved the way for the first paper currency since cards and money were traded during bets the same way.


It’s truly amazing how inventive the ancient Chinese were!


Now, how about the women? Learn more about 5 prominent women in Chinese history here.

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