Chinese Inventions

Chinese inventions span thousands of years, and the Chinese have introduced many important inventions and innovations in the world.

To fully appreciate the significance of Chinese inventions, it is helpful to consider how ancient some of them are, and how they laid the basis for future innovations and improvements in science.

Ancient Chinese Inventions

There is something knows as the four great innovations of Ancient China:


Papermaking in Ancient China was invented around 100 CE, where the first sheet of paper was constructed with a combination of fibres, mulberries, and hemp. That paved the way for the future of papermaking.


In roughly the 9th century CE, the Chinese began using mixtures of substances like petrochemicals for warefare. This is the earliest known use of gunpowder, even though they were using some of the substances to make gunpowder for medicinal and other purposes.

The Compass

The compass is one of the oldest Chinese inventions, having been invented roughly around 250 BCE. Interestingly enough, it was not invented for navigational purposes, but in order to harmonize the built enivronment for Fung Shei purposes. The earliest compasses were made with a mineral known as lodestone, which has magnetic properties.


Of course, the invention of papermaking aided that of printing. The Chinese started off with woodblock printing, where letters are carved out of wood, and then ink is applied and printed onto paper. Later, the Chinese also invented movable type printing, which is more suited to Western alphabets, and can be used to easily change letters and words around.

Fun Chinese Inventions

There are many other ‘smaller’ inventions, but incredibly useful to mankind, that the Chinese have invented or discovered. Here are some of the more interesting ones:

The Noodle

What would some people do without eating noodles?

Rowing Oars

Which have helped navigation over the oceans, and still today play an important role in water-based sports and events


The Chinese didn’t ‘invent’ salt, but they discovered ways of harnessing and using it for commercial purposes, which laid the basis as salt as a currency in other parts of the world

The Banknote

Still used today, the banknotes dates back to Ancient Chinese printmaking, and banknotes were used by merchants and tradesmen as trading receipts hundreds of years ago


But that one’s obvious


Still played today by tens of thousands of people around the world, first invented in China.


Spectacles in the sky, developed by the Chinese around 900 CE.


Traditionally used by inhabitants of a besieged Chinese town as a rescue signal


Developed out of a need for cleanliness, the toothbrush has certainly taken the world by storm!

There are many more Chinese inventions, but these should give you a taste and insight into the enormous contribution the Chinese have made to the world and world culture.