Innovation on Earth

Global Citizenship Resources for Innovation Academy and Beyond

Chinese Time

Last night, we had a workshop about the history of the Chinese dynasties.  Well before the United States even existed, Chinese emperors were taking over huge areas of land, building thousands of miles of the Great Wall, and developing all sorts of new and creative systems for society.  It’s hard to imagine just how they accomplished so much with such little technology.

The other day, we visited the Drum Tower in Beijing. It was really neat to walk up the steep steps to the top, where we could look out over the city.  We saw a performance of drummers, which is what they used to use to communicate the passing of time. I took a little video to give you a sense of what it was like:

There were also amazing exhibits to show various interesting ways that the people used to keep time. They were so creative, using things like water and incense to keep track of passing seconds.

They used to burn these incense, and they acted as a certain kind of clock. When they were finished burning, they knew how much time had passed.

This was one of my favorite time innovations. As the incense burns, the bells on the dragon drop, and indicate the passing of time, like a cuckoo clock.

The Chinese have really figured out a lot of interesting innovations throughout history.  Today, they are still leading the way into the future.  One in five people on Earth is Chinese today, and their economy is one of the fastest growing.  I didn’t make this video, but we watched it the other night, and I think it shows how powerful China continues to be today.  Watch it and let me know what you think.  Is China still a cutting edge society for today’s time?

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4 thoughts on “Chinese Time

  1. Sophia M. on said:

    that video really helped me learn more about china! Also the drum video was cool too. The exhibits look interesting! The dragon clock looks amazing!

  2. Anna S. on said:

    Interesting information.

    I thought the drumming for telling time was really cool. Is the drumming for telling everyone when the next hour is or half hour?
    I think the Chinese way of telling time is really cool!! The Dragon Boat Incense Holder is cool too, isn’t burning incense like how we burned candles to tell time?
    I watched the Introduction to China in 10 minutes. I did my best to listen, but most of the words were kind of unclear, and were spoken fast. I must say, although I’m Chinese, some of that information I didn’t even know!
    I’m not going to be unfair and just say things like China is the best country in the world, I’m going to be truthful. China seems like it has some problems (not all of them major), but its economy and population are fast-growing! That advantage might help them more than they’re problems harm them.
    I think that in the future, China may still be the cutting edge society of today’s time.

    Enjoy yourself in China’s history Ms. Krakauer!! ;) ~ Anna

  3. Lovinia on said:

    I watched that video! I didn’t know there was so many Chinese people! How packed are the streets?

    • It depends. In general, Beijing is very crowded. The subway trains can be really intense. They are super packed! The Forbidden City was extra touristy and crowded though.

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