Lu Ban

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Sculpture of Lu Ban in Weifang

Lu Ban (simplified Chinese: 鲁班; traditional Chinese: 魯班; pinyin: Lǔ Bān; Wade–Giles: Lu Pan) (507–440 BC) was a Chinese carpenter, engineer, philosopher, inventor, military thinker, and statesman. He was a contemporary of Mozi, and is the patron saint of Chinese builders and contractors.

Lu Ban was born in the State of Lu[1] to a renowned family during the chaos of the Spring and Autumn Period civil wars. His original name was Gongshu Yizhi (Chinese: 公輸依智). He was also referred to as Gongshu Ban (公輸班), Kungshu Pen (公輸般) and Kungshu Pun (公輸盘), but was most commonly known as Lu Ban.

According to tradition, he was responsible for several inventions, as described in Chapters 49 and 50 of Mozi:

  • Cloud ladder—a mobile, counterweighted siege ladder.[2]
  • Grappling hooks and ram—implements for naval warfare.[3]
  • Wooden bird—a non-powered, flying, wooden bird which could stay in the air for three days. It has been suggested to be a prototype of a kite.[4]

Other inventions were also attributed to him, such as a lifting implement to assist with burial,[5] a wooden horse carriage and coachman,[6] and other woodworking mentioned in various texts, which thereafter led Lu Ban to be acknowledged as a master craftsman:

  • The Book of Lineages (世本), written circa the 3rd century BC.
  • The Tales of the Marvellous (述异记), by Ren Fang, written circa the 5th century AD.
  • The Records of Origin on Things and Affairs (事物纪原), by Gao Cheng, written circa the 11th century.
  • The Origin on Things (物原), by Luo Qi, written circa the 15th century.
  • The Treatise of Lu Ban (鲁班经), attributed to Lu Ban, written in the 13th, 14th, or 15th century.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ According to a citation, dated to the 7th century, from Volume 24 of Youyang Zazu, he was from Dunhuang.
  2. ^ 公输盘为楚造云梯之械,成,将以攻宋。(Mei's Translation: Gongshu Ban had completed the construction of Cloud ladders for the State of Chu and was going to attack the State of Song with them.) Mozi, Ch. 50, Para. 1.
  3. ^ 公输子自鲁南游楚,焉始为舟战之器,作为钩强之备,退者钩之,进者强之,量其钩强之长,而制为之兵。楚之兵节,越之兵不节,楚人因此若埶,亟败越人。(Mei's Translation: Gongshuzi came south from the State of Lu to the State of Chu, and began making implements for naval warfare which consisted of grappling hooks and rams. When the enemy were retreating they used the hooks. And when the enemy were advancing they employed the rams. And the weapons were made according to the length of these hooks and rams. The weapons of the State of Chu thus were all standardized, and those of the State of Yue were not. And, with this advantage, the people of Chu greatly defeated the people of Yue.) Mozi, Ch. 49, Para. 20.
  4. ^ 公输子削竹木以为鵲,成而飞之,三日不下。(Mei's Translation: Gongshuzi constructed a bird from bamboo and wood and when it was completed he flew it. It stayed up [in the air] for three days.) Mozi, Ch. 49, Para. 21.
  5. ^ Liji, Ch. 4.
  6. ^ Lunheng, Ch. 85, by Wang Chong (b. 27).

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