6 January 2017

Wan Ren Di (萬人敵)


Tian Gong Kai Wu (《天工開物》) variant

Drawing of Wan Ren Di in action, from 'Tian Gong Kai Wu (《天工開物》)'.
Wan Ren Di (萬人敵, lit. 'Rivaling ten thousand men') is a type of improvised incendiary bomb developed during the final years of the Ming Dynasty. Recorded in late Ming encyclopedia Tian Gong Kai Wu, it was meant to be used to defend relatively small and remote cities and fortresses where ponderous cannons won't be of much use.

Wan Ren Di is a relatively simple weapon that can be cheaply and easily manufactured. It consists of two components: a hollowed clay ball filled with various types of propellants and gunpowder (usually incendiary or poison smoke), as well as a boxy wooden frame. Alternatively, a wooden barrel with its inside fireproofed with clay can be used instead.

Like Fei Huo Xiang Mo Chui (飛火降魔槌), the bomb does not detonate after being thrown. Instead, the clay ball will start spinning inside the wooden frame (which is used to protect the clay ball from breaking apart during impact) and projecting fire all around it, effectively deny the area to the enemy for an extended period of time.

Zhan Shou Quan Shu (《戰守全書》) variant

Drawing of two different containers for Wan Ren Di, from 'Zhan Shou Quan Shu (《戰守全書》)'.
A completely different Wan Ren Di, also called Wan Ren Di Guan (萬人敵罐, lit. 'Rivaling ten thousand men jar'), is recorded in another late Ming military treatise, Zhan Shou Quan Shu. 

A throwback to ancient thunder crash bomb, this version of Wan Ren Di was originally a fused grenade or bomb used to attack enemy troops and siege engines at the base of the wall, although the risk of yet-to-explode grenades being picked up and thrown back at the defenders eventually led to simplification of the weapon into a simple container filled with gunpowder and other incendiaries akin to Huo Tong (火桶), that has to be set off separately. The simplified Wan Ren Di can either be dropped or lowered via iron chain to the base of the wall.


  1. Are the bombs in the image packed with shrapnel charges, given the fact that the enemies are being dismembered?

    1. As far as I can tell, no. It just set things on fire.

    2. Then what's with the guys in the illustration getting dismembered?

    3. Either artistic license or maybe the specific gunpowder formula used has some additional effects that I am not aware of.


< > Home

Random Quotes & Trivia

GREAT MING MILITARY © , All Rights Reserved. BLOG DESIGN BY Sadaf F K.