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Technology during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

Covered box with flowers, Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Reign of the Yongle Emperor (1403–1424). China. Red lacquer with carved designs. Courtesy of the Asian Art Museum, The Avery Brundage Collection, B60M309.A-.B.
At the beginning of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), China was a world leader in the use of gunpowder-based weaponry, shipbuilding and navigation, and the production of porcelain and various other materials requiring technological knowledge. Many of these developments did not continue further into Ming rule. Confucianism did not encourage commerce, and this — combined with a strong belief in the superiority of their own culture — led the Ming emperors to close the country’s doors to foreign ideas and people, limiting access to a few port cities in the south. After the reign of the Yongle emperor (1403–1424), there was little geographic exploration.
Scientific investigation also lagged, and by the end of the dynasty China was importing weaponry and weapon technologies from Europe, where shipbuilding and navigational skills had become more advanced.
The developments that did occur during the Ming dynasty were largely focused on refinements in existing technologies. Examples of these refinements can be found in the lacquers, porcelains, and textiles.

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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Lex2
    this doesn't say anything about the little box that was shown! what was the box used for? what is it made out of? is there some symbolism in this little box? what was the box's purpose?
    (9 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      You're absolutely right! I think it is intended to be an example of this exalted Ming Dynasty technology, but that's only a guess. Someone at Khan Art History messed up. The editor needs to add at least one sentence, or maybe a short paragraph. Or else, replace the illustration.
      (1 vote)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Jaysen Lewis
    I found this. would this be good.
    This covered box is representative of a type created in great numbers during the reigns of the Yongle and Xuande emperors. Like many designs of the early Ming dynasty, precedents for the floral décor are to be found in works created at the Southern Song court. Song examples are most often paintings or ceramics; it was in the early Ming that these designs were fully explored in carved lacquer.
    (2 votes)
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  • starky seed style avatar for user EagerToLearn
    Why is this article so short? There's hardly anything on technology itself, let alone examples!
    (1 vote)
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  • starky tree style avatar for user DanielleMegan
    In Ming Dynasty China, were there widespread running water systems (aqueducts, sewer systems, fountains)? If so, who ordered them put in?
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user dhamaracosta530
    It doesn't say anything about the Zheng He's treasure ship or how it was made! I think that if you show anything that involves technology, you should explain how it's made! Not just facts, at least explain it. How did ship building and navigation become more advanced?
    (0 votes)
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