Misunderstood junks: The western view of Chinese maritime technology

Dublin Core

Title

Misunderstood junks: The western view of Chinese maritime technology

Creator

Hans Konrad Van Tilburg

Date

2002

Type

Thesis

Zotero

Author

Hans Konrad Van Tilburg

Item Type

Thesis

Abstract Note

This dissertation examines the history of western and particularly American cultural perceptions of Chinese nautical technology. Ten Chinese-built junks and their journeys across the Pacific in the 20 th century serve as the primary resource for the investigation. This is not a comprehensive sample of all junks which crossed the ocean, but reflects the selection of non-mass produced craft, those more representative of traditional working vessels. Details of these voyages have been pieced together from a wide variety of sources. In order to interpret the junks of this select sample, a brief survey of the appropriate nautical literature is followed by the detailed analysis of each individual vessel. This analysis relies heavily on eastern and western sources, as well as the fields of anthropology, archaeology, and the history of technology. The physical form of the vessel possesses more than just technical information, and so an appreciation of cultural features and practices for junks is also provided. Having come as close as possible to understanding these junks as complex technical and cultural artifacts, a comparison can then be made to American perceptions. The description of public reaction to the journeys and to the junks is drawn mainly from newspaper and journal articles. Such craft were immediately seen by the public as unchanged artifacts from ancient times, as representations of sea monsters, as barbaric crazy oddities, as almost anything except what they really were, relatively efficient sailing craft. Often the entrepreneur who sold tickets for admission encouraged the belief that these vessels were pirate ships stocked with torture devices and beheading swords. Only those few nautical specialists and the crews of the junks themselves seemed capable of a more pragmatic appreciation. The reasons for popular misperceptions of these junks include broader issues of museums and display and infatuation with exotic objects from far away. Unfortunately, such misperceptions precluded most serious evaluation of these historic vessels, and none of these junks, some of the oldest wooden sailing craft in the world, benefited from any efforts at effective preservation. They have now almost completely vanished.

Date

2002

Extra

Ph.D.

Library Catalog

ProQuest

Num Pages

360

Short Title

Misunderstood junks

Title

Misunderstood junks: The western view of Chinese maritime technology

University

University of Hawai'i

Files

Tags

Citation


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