Milling Journals of the past. Ancient Milling in China

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    Authors & editors

    Cookson, Mildred M [Author]

    Publisher Milling & Grain
    Year of publication 2015 July

    Medium Digital

    Wind & watermills > Rest of the World (not Europe) > Asia > China


    Scope & contentThe history of milling in the world’s second-largest country is documented in many ways at the Mills Archive in Reading, England. Not only do we have documents and photographs as well as various journal articles from Victorian times and later, our library also holds the pioneering publications by Needham, underlining how the development of technology in China often predated similar developments in the West.

    As with many poor rural societies, the first milling technologies were muscle-powered and some are still in use today in many parts of the world. Several of the illustrations here, taken from postcards from the early 1900s, show mules or oxen rotating an “edge-runner” stone on top of a flat bedstone. The flour was removed from the lower stone by the farmer walking round using a brush to clear the flour. This brush and bowl technique was lampooned on the rear of one of the cards by an advertiser 100 years ago, presumably ignorant of the mechanical engineering efficiency of most of the Chinese milling industry even then!

    An 1888 article in The Implement and Machinery Review”, held at the Mills Archive provides more detail of these early muscle-dependent processes, and describes a more modern arrangement of millstones, as shown in this edited transcript…Read more.


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