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Model Chinese Junks

Nature volume 142, page 789 (29 October 1938) | Download Citation



A COLLECTION of large-scale models of Chinese junks, which is said to be unique, has been presented to the nation by Sir Frederick Maze, inspector-general of Chinese customs, for exhibition in the Science Museum, South Kensington. The models, ten in number, were built in Hong-Kong or Shanghai by Chinese craftsmen, and are accurate replicas of these sailing craft in every detail, down to the shrines and household gods. They include examples with the magical eye on the prow. These boats, which are now giving place to steam in Chinese waters, and have also suffered many casualties during the present warfare, are of two main types, a northern and a southern. Except for details of rigging, they have not altered in principle over a prolonged period—at least a thousand years, and some authorities would hold for perhaps twice as long before that. Of these types, one has bluff bows and a flat bottom adapted for sailing in shallow waters. The other type has a sharp bow, with sheer lines and a deeper draught. Details of construction and rig in use among Chinese sailors at an early date are shown in these models, which did not appear in Western ships until a very much later period. Such, for example, are the watertight compartment, the battened sail used in yacht racing, lee boards of the keel and rudder types, and multiple sheets for independent handling of the upper and lower parts of the sails.

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