To determine the time, the ancient Chinese used various devices: a sundial, an hourglass, a water clock. Let’s talk about one invention of the Chinese – the “fire watch”. In China, they were called scented candles indicating the time.There are several varieties of “fire hours”.
Candle cone. The dough was made of clay and sandalwood pulverized into powder. The dough was rolled into a long and even cord and laid in a spiral, so that each turn was wider than the previous one. The finished and dried cone was suspended in the middle and set on fire from below. The cone smoldered slowly, filling the room with the aroma of incense.
The cones could be large and small, with different contents and composition of incense. The cords were of different lengths and thicknesses, and this made it possible to make cones that burned only for one night or ten, twenty days, or even a whole month.
Notches were made on the cords that indicated the double clock, these time intervals were called the hour of the rat, bull, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. In total there were 12 double hours, starting from the hour of the rat, which in translation into European hours began at 23 o’clock in the evening and lasted until 1 o’clock in the morning. Then came the double hour of the bull – from 1 to 3 nights, etc.
A small weight was hung on the desired notch on a thin thread, and when the thread burned out at the appointed time, it fell into the basin and marked the onset of the set time.
“Match clock” is another name for a device for determining time. The cord made by the method indicated above was fixed horizontally on the back of the dragon – one of the symbols of China. Further, as in the previous case, – nicks, threads with a weight, designed for a certain time, ignition – and the clock is ready to work.
“Scented pattern in ligature.” This name is associated with a beautiful legend about Maisyan, his name translates as “Incense seller”, and the embroiderer Tongzhen – Copper Needle. Maysyan really wanted to help the girl wake up in the morning at a strictly defined hour, when she needed to fulfill an urgent and important order. And he figured out how to do it.
Maysyan ordered the master a copper box, on the lid of which a groove was cut for laying a cord in it. The groove was made in the form of a ligature pattern of double hieroglyph si 喜 – a symbol of joy and happiness of the newlyweds, which are hung on the gate on the wedding day. Instead of a weight on a thread, he hung a wedding ring in a box, which he inherited from his mother.
At the right time at dawn, the thread burned out and the ring fell to the bottom of a metal box. Tongzhen awoke from the loud sound. She managed to complete unfinished embroidery on time and, of course, appreciated the care and resourcefulness of Maysyan. The young people got married. So an ordinary sort of thing decided the fate of two people.