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History of Cannabis in Ancient China – part II

by Andra Roman

China is one of the biggest countries today, and for sure you might have depicted so far that it was a great power house back in the times, as it is today.

That being said, we shall continue with our little Ode towards China when it comes down to hemp discoveries and Cannabis oriented things.

Fragments of hemp cloth have also been found in Chinese burial chambers dating from the Chou Dynasty (1122-249 B.C.). In addition to archeological evidence, written documents refer to hemp as a source of clothing. For example, The “Shu King”, a book dating to about 2350 B.C., refers to the soil in Shantung as rich with silk and hemp while ancient poetry mentions young girls weaving hemp into clothing (Abel, 1980).

The Chinese also relied on hemp for warfare. Due to its strength and durability, Chinese archers made bowstrings from hemp. Because these hemp bowstrings were stronger than the enemy’s bamboo ones, the Chinese arrows could fly further. This was a large advantage in war. In fact, hemp was so important that Chinese monarchs allocated large portions of land specifically for growing hemp—the first war crop.

(Source here)

Now, can you guess what thing that we still use a lot today, made its debut baby steps all the way back in Ancient China?

Rock / Scissors / Paper

 

Cannabis Ancient China
You probably won’t guess, so I’ll tell you since I’m here.
Paper is the correct answer!
Paper could be the most important Chinese invention, or at least, one we couldn’t live without today.
Thanks to them, Romeo was able to write Love letters to Juliet, and romance was rescued once again. Fragments of paper containing hemp fibre have been found in Chinese graves dating back to the first century B.C.
Cannabis Ancient China
But how did they ended up inventing paper?

The Chinese made paper by crushing hemp fibers and mulberry tree bark into a pulp and putting the mixture into a tank of water. The tangled fibers rose to the top of the water, were removed, and placed in a mold. After drying, the fibers formed sheets that could be written on. The Chinese kept paper making a secret for many centuries. Eventually, the secret became known to the Japanese during the 5th century A.D. and finally to the Arabs through Chinese prisoners in the 9th century. 

(Source here)

Ma, much?

In Ancient China, our well known and loved Cannabis had a much shorter name – Ma.
Ma was considered to be a unique drug because it was both feminine (like Yin) as well as masculine (like Yang).
Yin represented the weak, passive and negative female influence in nature while Yang represented quite the opposites like the strong, active and positive male force.
Cannabis Ancient China
Whenever Yin and Yang were in balance, that meant that the body was in harmony and health, whenever they were out of balance, the body was in a state of chaos and illness.
Chinese people made sure to study closely this amazing plant they stumbled upon called “Ma” and realised that the female plant produced much more medicine than the male plant. Ma was used often in order to substitute or treat absences of Yin such as female menstruation, gout, malaria, constipation and other weaknesses. (Abel, 1980)
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