Ancient Chinese Raft

Chinese raft, derived from a template perhap 2500 years BC old.

If the junk is well known, it dates only from the 2nd century AD. Jc. But its shape and characteristics have remained virtually unchanged since then. Studying the precursors of these offshore vessels necessarily means studying ancient Chinese river boats. It goes without saying that according to the period studied, going back to the first dynasties, it is complex to draw up a detailed picture of the types of boats of the time. However, thanks in particular to the engravings and the models, it is known that the Chinese built impressive ships to navigate the immense yellow river, with a flat bottom, a very wide hull, and overlapping constructions superimposed like the steamboats of the mississippi Can compare them in terms of size and river specificities. The dragon boats mentioned since time immemorial were only the most spectacular and sumptuous manifestation of a lineage of large river ships that was already over 2000 years old.

The junk, like the Chinese river boats, were all characterized by an optimal use of the wood, with an assembly giving flexibility, lightness and solidity. Empiricism, of course, was at the origin of this evolution, which began logically with the first rafts in the semi-mythical period of the "three sovereigns and five emperors" from 2852 to 2205 - It is said that it is Fu Xi who These rafts had common characteristics specific to this type of craft, but the Chinese specificity was to introduce a primitive shell to these boats, simply by raising the edges and then applying two planks of flange to the flanks. The "half-barrel" shape was also a classic that resulted in a whole family of Asian ships and boats, especially prevalent in the southeast. According to what is known, traces of craft were found by Chinese archaeologists and dated more than 7000 years. Hemudu (near Yuyao, Zhejiang Province) was also found in the ground by excavating places corresponding to the old banks of the Yellow River, from 3000 years BC Whose elaborate form testifies to the empirical value of a usage consumed for dozens of generations