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Quiz #470 Results
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Answer to Quiz #470- March 22, 2015
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1. What was the original use for this device?
2. What do the square and the circle represent?
3. What changes made the device made more portable?
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CONTACT US
QUIZMASTER
ROGUES GALLERY
UPCOMING EVENTS
TinEye Alert
You can find this photo on TinEye.com,
but the quiz will be a lot more fun if you solve the puzzle on your own.
Chinese Compass
www.computersmiths.com/chineseinvention/compass.htm
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Answers:
1.  Feng Shui for the layout of a building; Fortune telling.
2.  The square represents earth and the circle represents heaven.
3.  Floating a needle on magnetized needle in a bowl of water or
suspending it by a thread.
Comments from Our Readers
Am mid-way through a hefty tome titled '1001 Inventions That Changed The
World' - dates from the prehistoric to modern days -- saw the compass (or
variation thereof) in the book some time back and the picture triggered the response.
Frank Nollette
I thought it was something to do with mapping the stars.  It was the spoon that
seemed very odd until I realized it was the big dipper.  I puzzled more over the
Qimancy website:  
www.fengshuigate.com/qimancy.html I guess I found it first,
then, thought through it and went on to find the brass compass.  

Take care and keep the interesting quizzes coming,
Judy Pfaff
I recognized it as a precursor to a compass.  A old friend had a replica of one.   I
did have to look up the details as I couldn't remember what the square versus circle
and characters stood for.  It would have been cumbersome to carry around for
directions.  It is amazing what 'technology' was available that long ago.  I doubt a
teenager today could find their way  around without GPS and Google Maps.
Edna Cardinal
The lettering led me to believe that it could be a divination device, and led to finding
the compass. Keep looking on ebay.  Some idiot will have one and sell it for next to
nothing as a brass square plate.
Suzan Farris
Ahoy Colleen,

You are right, I did like this quiz, but then again I, in fact, like all of your quizzes.

I had never seen this before so I found it very interesting, and yes I had to search it
out.

I do like the idea behind this ancient device of striving to find harmony and oneness
with the earth. I think it is very important yet so lacking in this day and age. I
believe there is a "thread" that somehow connects heaven and earth, but that we
have lost sight of it. I also believe that it would be in all of our best interests to
somehow find it and begin the process of reconnecting.
Cindy Costigan
My first thought was it was a sun dial but I realized a sun dial doesn't need
markings all around the base.  I Googled "chinese sun dial with spoon" and was
taken to an image similar to yours. The description of the image stated it was a
compass. A little more Googling gave me the answers to the remaining quiz
questions.

Thanks for the fun quiz.
Gary Elder
I didn't recognize it, because I had never seen one before, but it looked like
something depicting the heavens and earth.

I wouldn't have thought that relying on a bowl of water was very portable.  I can
see the thread being much more portable.
Janice Sellers
I am not sure about the portability aspect, but I found a picture of a Chinese box
compass the has similar markings described as "further refinement in the box
compass is from about 1200 CE, and is much more suitable for navigation. It
retains markings of the heaven's plate around its circumference, in a simplified
form. Compass markings generally had an inner circle with the eight trigrams and
an outer circle with 24 directions based on azimuth points".
Barbara Battles
Again, a great quiz! Thank goodness we don't have to have a compass like this in
our car.  

Compasses have come a long way since then!!!!!!!!!!! Thank goodness! I can
imagine what it would have been like to teach orienteering to our Girl Scouts using
this early kind of compass!
Grace Hertz
I didn't recognize the item, but I could tell it was a compass and that it appeared to
be Chinese. After that all I needed to do was Google Chinese compass to find the
answer.
Ellen Welker
I looked for images of a bronze square and found it on Pinterest.
Rebecca Bare
Just some very careful googling… I think it was “square plate with circle and
spoon”
John Thatcher
I did a Google image search for "ladle on brass plate". You image and others were
in the results. a very interesting puzzle.
Tom Collins

Congratulations to Our Winners!


Janice M. Sellers                Judy Pfaff
Edna Cardinal                Gary Elder
Cindy Costigan                Frank Nollette
Tony Knapp                Peter Norton
Rebecca Bare                Suzan Farris
John Thatcher                Tynan Peterson
Barbara Battles                Tom Collins
Chris Boulden                Ellen Welker
Margaret Paxton                Ida Sanchez
Owen Blevins                Arthur Hartwell


Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
The Fabulous Fletchers!
If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
Click
here.
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email it to us at
CFitzp@aol.com. If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free
Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
discount towards the purchase of the
Forensic Genealogy book.
**********
XXX

How Our Readers Solved the Puzzle
My first impression on looking at the device was that it was Chinese
of origin because of the characters. Second thing that I noticed was
that signs from the I Ching were incorporated on the "board". This
indicated to me that it might have something to do with fortune
telling. Googled images for Chinese fortune telling devices. On
scrolling thru images saw similar device. Went to a page which
described it as a compass. Googled for Chinese compass. "Smith
College Museum of Ancient Inventions: Compass" at Smith College
site, My first impression on looking at the device was that it was
Chinese of origin because of the characters. Second thing that I
noticed was that signs from the I Ching were incorporated on the
"board." This indicated to me that it might have
something to do with fortune telling. Googled images for Chinese
fortune telling devices. On scrolling thru images saw similar device.
Went to a page which described it as a compass. Googled for
Chinese compass. "Smith College Museum of Ancient Inventions:
Compass" at Smith College site,
smith.edu, had an excellent
description of the compass from which I obtained the answers. It
had an excellent description of the compass from which I obtained
the answers.

Tony Knapp

*****

Yikes, I really had to think on this one.

I got tangled for some time in the notion of "spoon" or "ladle". But
eventually I saw that that made no sense with the essentially flat plate.

Given that this seemed to be a Chinese devise, I figured that it was no
accident that the spoon rested with its handle elevated from the plate,
so it might be balanced in order to pivot. Thus, eventually, I saw two
options: spin the spoon or spin the plate. Spinning the spoon could
make it some kind of a game or Ouija board sort of thing. Spinning
the plate might make sense if the spoon stayed stationary, but friction
would probably drag it around with the plate. Unless could the spoon
be magnetic?

I Googled ancient Chinese compass, and voila!

This short description belies the days I spent on the mental process. I
really thought I was sunk.

Peter Norton

*****

I was too smart for my own good and decided to use a Chinese
drawing translator (used in a previous quiz). None of them worked,
either they were too ancient or I'm a terrible drawer.

So, after checking also Japanese (just in case) and having had the
same total lack of progress, I went to just simply google "ancient
Chinese plate" and one photo of the compass appeared.

Took it from there. The Smithsonian foundation has all the answers in
order.

Ida Sanchez
Earliest records show a spoon shaped
compass made of lodestone or magnetite
ore, referred to as a "South-pointer"
dating back to sometime during the Han
Dynasty (2nd century BCE to 2nd
century CE). The spoon-shaped
instrument was placed on a cast bronze
plate called a "heaven-plate" or diviner's

I Bet You Didn't Know the Chinese Invented...
www.chinawhisper.com/top-20

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Gunpowder
board that had the eight trigrams (Pa Gua) of the I Ching, as well as the 24 directions
(based on the constellations), and the 28 lunar mansions (based on the constellations
dividing the Equator) . Often, the Big Dipper (Great Bear) was drawn within the center
disc. The square symbolized earth and the circular disc symbolized heaven. Upon these
were inscribed the azimuthal points relating to the constellations. Its primary use was
that of geomancy (prognostication) to determine the best location and time for such
things as burials. In a culture that placed extreme importance on reverence for
ancestors, this remained an important tool well into the 19th century. Even in modern
times there are those who use this divination concepts of Feng Shui (literally, of wind
and water) for locating buildings or fortuitous times and locations for almost any
enterprise. There is a story that the first Chin emperor used the divining board and
compass in court to affirm his right to the throne. Primarily, the compass was used for
geomancy for a long time before it was used for navigation

Ancient Chinese alchemists realized that the magnetite ore would point towards a
magnetic north. Their understanding was not total, since they thought that there were
north pointers and south pointers. "The lodestone follows a maternal principle. The
needle is struck out from the iron (originally a stone) and the nature of mother and son
is that each influences the other, and they communicate together. The nature of the
needle is to return to its original completeness. As its body is very light and straight, it
must indicate straight lines. It responds to the chhi by orientation, being central to the
earth and deviating in various directions. To the south it points to the Hsuan-Yuan
constellation, hence to the hsiu Hsing and therefore to the hsiu Hsu in the north, along
the axis Ting-Kuei. The yearly differences follow the elliptic, and all such phenomena
can be understood." (from Master Kuan's Geomantic Instructor), 8th century CE

Some speculate that in 101 BCE Chinese ships reached the east coast of India for the
first time with help from the navigational compass pioneered by the Chinese. They had
discovered the orientating effect of magnetite, or lodestone as early as the 4th century
BCE.

The figure above shows a working model of the first instrument known to be a
compass. The spoon or ladle is of magnetic lodestone, and the plate is of bronze (non
conducting metal). The circular center represents Heaven, and the square plate
represents Earth. The handle of the spoon representing the Great Bear, points south.
The plate bears Chinese characters which denote the eight main directions of north,
northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, and symbols from the I
Ching oracle books which were correlated with directions. Separately marked are the
finer gradations of twenty-four compass points, and along the outermost edge are the
twenty-eight lunar character representations. Rather than navigation, these simple
direction pointers were likely used for geomancy or Fung Shui, the technique of
aligning buildings according to forces of nature.
**********
placed upon a pointed shaft (dry compass) or suspended from a silk thread.
Consequently, they were much more useful for navigation purposes since they were
now much more portable (and smaller).
The bowl of water with edge markings (below) shows a
simple mariner's compass, with with a floating magnetized
needle pointing north and south.By the time of the T'ang
dynasty (7-8th century CE) , Chinese scholars had devised a
way to magnetize iron needles, by rubbing them with
magnetite, and then suspending them in water (early 11th
century). They also had observed that needles cooled from
red heat and held in the north-south orientation (the earth's
axis) would become magnetic. These more refined needle
compasses could then be floated in water (wet compass),

A further refinement in the box compass (to the right) is from about
1200 CE, and is much more suitable for navigation. It retains
markings of the heaven's plate around its circumference, in a
simplified form. Compass markings generally had an inner circle with
the eight trigrams and an outer circle with 24 directions based on
azimuth points.
From the Quizmaster General's Own Collection
I bought this Chinese compass in the Ocean Terminal in Hong Kong in 1987.  It
consists of a compass flanked by two sundials that can be propped up at various
angles. The points of the sundials can be folded against their surfaces. The possible
angles of the sundials are determined by slots labeled with the names of various cities in
China.
On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever
seen set sail from China to "proceed all the way to the
ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians
beyond the seas." When the fleet returned home in
October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in
political and economic chaos. The great ships were left
to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys
were destroyed. Lost in the long, self-imposed isolation
that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had
reached America seventy years before Columbus and
had circumnavigated the globe a century before
Magellan. And they colonized America before the
Europeans, transplanting the principal economic crops
that have since fed and clothed the world.
**********
1421, The Year China Discovered America
smile.amazon.com/1421-Year-China-Discovered-America...

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