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Bronze Huochong ( Fire Gun)

Source:  Time: 2009-10-19 07:48:12

Cast in the 3rd year (1332) of the Zhishun reign of the Yuan Dynasty, it is the world's earliest surviving gun.

A 105mm gun, it is 35.3 centimeters long and weighs 6.94 kilograms. Be-fore firing, the gun was fixed to a wooden prop stand, packed with gunpowder and then had a projectile inserted into it. When the fuse was lit, the projectile would be shot by the force of exploding gunpowder. Because the great awe it inspired, it was also called tongjiangjun (bronze general).

Gunpowder, also referred to as black powder, is a mixture of saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal. It was invented by Chinese alchemists who lived in the 7th century. Later it was used in war. Gunpowder weapons such as huojian (fire arrow), huopao (fire gun), shenhuofeiya (magic flying fire crow) and huolongchushui (fiery dragon emerging from water.) appeared in the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties.

China's gunpowder was introduced to Europe via Central Asia during the 13th- 14th century.

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