1 May 2015

Fa Gong (發熕)

Ming Dynasty Cast Bronze Cannon
Drawing of a bronze Fa Gong on a European-style naval carriage, from 'Chou Hai Tu Bian (《籌海圖編》)'.
Fa Gong (發熕, can also be written as 發碽, 發貢, 法貢 or 法攻), also called Fa Gang (發槓) and Fa Kuang (發礦), is a type of European muzzle-loading cannon introduced to the Chinese in the sixteenth century. The term "Fa Gong" is almost certainly a loanword, although its origin is unclear. It is possibly the Chinese adoption of Portuguese word "falcão", or related to the middle English "gonne". In fact, the design of Fa Gong is most likely derived from European falconet, although its ovoid-shaped chamber (a prominent feature on Chinese bronze cannons) suggests that Chinese technologies may have played a part in the fabrication of this cannon.

A typical Fa Gong weighs five hundred to one thousand catties and shoots a four catties stone ball, lead ball, or lead-coated iron ball, but heavier version used in coastal defence can weigh up to five thousand catties. The six thousand catties Fa Gong is the most powerful cannon in the Ming arsenal after the Hong Yi Pao (紅夷砲), surpassing even Wu Di Da Jiang Jun (無敵大將軍) in power.

After the introduction of Hong Yi Pao, Fa Gong was used to designate a lighter variant of the new cannon.


  1. 春秋戰國, do we have a sense of when the Fa Gong was seeing service? Am I right to presume, given the western naval carriage, this was the 16th century? Or was it later?


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