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Block Reference: #28a176c0-d537-11eb-8709-71b8c1f5249e
Date and time: Thu, 24 Jun 2021 21:57:24 GMT
This is also one of the earliest mentions of using potash fertilizer in agriculture.
There are other ancient Chinese agriculture books such as the Si Min Yue Ling written by Cui Shi during the Eastern Han dynasty (25 to 220 AD), Ji Sheng’s Book written by Ji Sheng during the Western Han dynasty (206 BC to 24 AD), and Qi Min Yao Shu written by Gui Shi Xian during the Northern Wei dynasty (386 to 534 AD). All of these books contain accounts of hemp cultivation.
Ancient Chinese hemp cultivation techniques of collecting seeds, sowing time, field controls, and their influence on hemp quality were also recorded in the Essential Arts for the People or Qi Min Yao Shu which is a precious legacy of ancient Chinese science written 1,400 years ago. The Essential Arts for the People systematically summarized the ancient Chinese techniques of hemp cultivation.
In the Essential Arts for the People there are accurate records about the relation between the male hemp plant scattering pollen and the female hemp plant bearing seed.
Hemp as a fiber crop in ancient China
The ancient Chinese used the hemp plant for many different purposes. The bast fiber of the male plant was used to spin yarn and weave cloth. From the time of the earliest Chinese societies, until cotton was introduced into China during the Northern Song dynasty (960 to 1127 AD), hemp textile was the main cloth worn by the ancient Chinese. Many of the accounts of hemp use for cordage and textiles contained in the ancient Chinese texts have been corroborated by archeological discoveries.
During the Western Zhou dynasty (1100 to 771 BC) the hats of nobles were made of hemp.
The fine diameter of the yarn in the cloth was equivalent to modern 70-80 count yarn. High-quality raw material, along with advanced cultivation and processing techniques were needed to produce such fine cloth. The Book of Songs was written during the Western Zhou dynasty into the Spring and Autumn period (1100 BC to 600 BC). In a poem named ‘The Pool in Front of the Main Gate’ (written about 900 BC) in the chapter entitled ‘Culture of the Chen State’ (in southeast Henan province) there is a reference to hemp;
"The pool in front of the east gate could be used to Ou Ma. The pool in front of the east gate could be used to Ou Ning . . .". The phrase ‘Ou Ma’ means ‘to ret hemp’ and the phrase ‘Ou Ning’ means ‘to ret high-quality white hemp’.
The Classics of History or Shu Ching, the earliest Chinese history, mentions the value of hemp for fiber, and reported that hemp was grown in present day Hunan and Anhui provinces (Li 1974).
The Er Ya, the earliest Chinese dictionary with cultural, agricultural, and social contents, was written about 2,200 years ago during the Qin (221 to 207 BC) or Western Han (206 BC to 24 AD) dynasties. In this book, there is a sentence;
Hemp was commonly grown as a seed crop throughout the Spring and Autumn period (770 to 476 BC), Warring States period (476 to 221 BC), the Qin dynasty (221 to 207 BC), and the Han dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD).
The Li Qi places hemp among the "five grains" of ancient China which included barley, rice, wheat, and soybeans. Hemp seed remained a staple of the Chinese diet through the 10th century when other higher quality grain became more widespread (Li 1974).
There are hemp seeds and inscriptions of the characters ta ma on bones found amongst the relics unearthed from the Jin dynasty (265 to 420 AD) ruins in Henan province.
Among the sacrificial objects unearthed from the Han dynasty era Ma Wang Dui tomb near Changsha in Hunan province, hemp seeds were stored together with those of rice, millet, and wheat. Hemp seed remains were also found inside of earthenware grain storage jars recovered from a tomb at Shao-kou near the Han dynasty capital of Lo-yang in present day Hunan province (Yu 1977).
"First, soak the seed in water and sow them as soon as they germinate. Soak the seed in water for about the same time required to cook two shi of rice. Then spread the soaked seeds on the bamboo bed for about three to four cun 6 in thickness. Stir the seed several times and after one night they will germinate. It is best for hemp to grow after a rain, when the rain has permeated into the soil. Second, in order to avoid plant diseases and insect pests, hemp should rotate with wheat, bean, and cereals. Third, different methods should be used with different soil moistures."
These records show that some of the hemp cultivation techniques used during the Han dynasty were quite different from the techniques used today. Perhaps the ancient Chinese sowed the seeds that were destined to be the seed plants early, so that they could reach a large size, before they were pollinated by the late sown male plants. This method could increase seed yield significantly.
The sowing methods written in the Essential Arts for the People are,
It is unclear whether the ancient Chinese were taking advantage of the psychoactive effects of cannabis. A few years back, researchers found two pounds of 2,700-year-old cannabis hidden inside a tomb in the Gobi desert. Because the hidden cannabis was not hemp, researchers suspected that it was used for other purposes than clothing or producing ropes. However, the main suggestion was that it was used for medicinal purposes.
According to the 14th-century novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, this was due to his imprisonment of Hua Tuo after one of his patients, a warlord named Cao Cao, suspected that Hua Tuo ordered him a skull surgery in order to murder him. Hua Tuo gave his life’s work to a prison guard so it would make it through history. However, the guard’s wife supposedly burnt most pages, while her husband only managed to salvage a few.
Welcome to the empire
Cannabis is first mentioned as a medicine in ancient China in the pharmacological book The Herbal (Pen Ts’ao). Though the original was lost in history, legend tells that sometime around 2,500 B.C., the Red Emperor himself wrote the book, guided by divine inspiration. This gave him the title “Father of Chinese Medicine.”
Nevertheless, a textual analysis found that cannabis strains with psychotropic properties were rarely applied in Chinese medicine or gradually became less prominent. This might have occurred due to the reduced prominence of plant parts, such as the female inflorescence in bencao literature (ancient medical texts) over time. Another possible cause is the enduring confusing regarding plant parts, which led to limited practical application and experience by later authors.
Hemp seed flowers, or ma ren hua, were also found in another well-preserved tomb, this time a 2,100-year-old in the Hunan province. These flowers were found next to numerous grains such as rice and wheat, which indicates that the seeds were consumed as food. It is unclear what dishes were made using hemp seeds, but it seems porridge was one of them. It was consumed as food mainly by poor people and applied externally to treat a variety of skin diseases, wounds, and even falling hair. In later years, hemp seed flowers are mentioned as an extract for frying foods. It was only around the 10 th century that hemp seed ceased being a major grain crop in China, although it is still used to make kitchen oil in Nepal.