Compass is a simple device for orientation identification. It consists of a rotational magnetic needle loaded on a shaft and a directional plate. It is one of the four great inventions of ancient China that has exerted profound influence on the development of human civilization.
Which means pointing to south, was recorded in the great literature Han Feizi during the Warring States Period (206BC-23AD) for identifying directions. It is the original basis for the invention of compass, and the oldest south-pointing device in human history. It is chiseled out of magnetic lodestone in the shape of a ladle or spoon. Its handle will point south when put on the smooth Earth Plate used for divination, which contains 24 directions based on the magnetic meridian direction.
In the Chinese history, numerous skillful craftsmen created interesting and delicate directional devices, such as the Compass Chariot made by Ma Jun during the Three Kingdoms period, the Compass Fish in the Northern Song Dynasty and the Compass Tortoise designed by Chen Yuanliang in the Southern Song Dynasty. The “Zhang Xianren Porcelain Figurine” unearthed in 1988 is a strong evidence to the fact that the basic form of modern compass was first invented by ancient Chinese.
The compass in real sense was created by a Chinese geomantic omen master in late Tang Dynasty, who originally used it for divination. The major material of the compass is magnetized steel needle, making up for the flaw that magnetism is easily lost in lodestones, of which Si’nan was made.
The compass body was first made simple, then complicated and finally simple enough for application in navigation. With the help of it, human beings finally made their first stride in conquering the sea, while the compass itself was brought to all over the world along with the sea waves, significantly driving the development of navigation in both China and the world.