Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The First Chinese Rice Cooker?

Wow....it's been almost two years since I last posted at this blog. I am so sorry for the lack of new posts since then. Between being tied down with my own eBay business and other projects, it just became hard to find the time to post anything new. Now that I have a little more time to post some new material, I'll be sure to post here as often as I can.

Now I'd like to take the time to share a little something with you guys that I found while doing a web search on Baidu the other day. It's an old Chinese news article, but still fascinating nonetheless!

In 2007, a giant kettle dating back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE-9 AD) was found during the excavation of ancient tombs in Dayi county, which is located in China's Sichuan province near the city of Chengdu. This kettle was unique in that it is actually a double-layered "kettle-within-a-kettle!" The main iron kettle is wrapped in an additional clay lining that kept food such as rice warm long after the water had stopped boiling and the kettle had been taken off the fire. This double-layered technology is essentially the same technology used in modern-day electric rice cookers!

The kettle is 28 cm. tall, 32 cm. in diameter, and 45 cm. round. According to an interview with one of the archaeologists who excavated it, one of the layers is shaped like a pottery lamp, which is rare for ancient Chinese kettles. A few other artifacts such as beans, pottery pieces (adorned with animal decorations), and coins were also found in the same burial pit with the kettle.

The advanced iron smelting skills of the people who lived in and around ancient Chengdu during this time are well-known. They had a smelting industry dating back to the ancient Shu state that existed in Sichuan prior to the Han dynasty. This double-layered kettle is proof of that advanced industry. Furthermore, the kettle is a demonstration of the important role that Sichuan people played in the Western Han Dynasty. And of course, for those of us living in the modern age, this kettle is a demonstration of modern-day cooking technology used in devices such as rice cookers at work in the ancient world!