|History of the Chinese Compass|
The History of the Chinese Compass|
You might have seen a normal compass before which is an instrument that has a freely suspended magnetic element. It displays the direction of the Earth's magnetic field at the point of observation horizontally.
Where did the compass originate?
It was said that the magnetic compass originated from China during the Qin dynasty. The fortune-tellers in China used a mineral composed of an iron oxide, which automatically aligns itself from north to south. This mineral is called lodestone. The Chinese compass is used for the construction of their fortune telling boards.
Later, the Chinese used it to point out real directions. The Chinese compass then becomes a square slab with markings of the cardinal points and the constellations. The pointing needle is spoon shaped and is pointing always to the south.
Chinese compass as a navigational aid
Zheng He from the Yunnan province of China was the first person recorded to have used the Chinese compass as a navigational aid. He used it in his voyage between 1405 and 1433.
Later, after a thousand years, Europeans and West Asians learned about the compass. William Gilbert then published a paper on magnetism, which is the main component of the compass. Navigators also use the compass to locate the magnetic North Pole.
Then, in 1825, British inventor William Sturgeon invented a compass using the concept of electromagnetism.
Chinese compass versus the invented compass
The main difference of the Chinese compass with the existing compass today is that the former makes use of ferrites or magnetic oxides. These are natural minerals that attract iron and other metals. Large deposits of ferrites were discovered thousands of years ago in the district of Magnesia in Asia Minor.
The second difference is that the Chinese compass is always pointing on the south while the invented compass points to the north.
The third is that invented compass is basically used for navigational purposes whereas the Chinese compass is used as a navigational tool and also as a beautiful piece of home décor and for Feng Shui.
Although there are many variations of compasses now, the Chinese compass is still being used by many people especially the Chinese for Feng Shui purposes. This fascinating Chinese compass is usually made up of brass base plate and a magnetic spoon. Exteriors of the compass sometimes depict designs such as Ten Heavenly Stems, Twelve Earthly Branches, and the Four Divinatory Symbols. These designs indicate the 24 directions and positions and are attached to a beautiful rosewood platform.
Using the traditional Chinese compass is easy. You just put the spoon in the middle of the plate and then the spoon will spin. The spoon will stop spinning once it has detected the south direction.
There are a number of websites that sell these traditional Chinese compass. If you have interest in learning about the Chinese compass and its interpretations using Feng Shui, then the Chinese compass could give a double purpose of being informative as well as fun.