22 February 2023

Cang Shan Chuan (蒼山船) and Chong Mu Chuan (艟喬船)

Cang Shan Chuan (蒼山船, lit. 'Mount Cang ship')

Drawing of a Cang Shan Chuan, from 'Bing Lu (《兵錄》)'.
Cang Shan Chuan, also known as Cang Shan Tie (蒼山鐵, lit. 'Mount Cang iron') and often shortened to Cang Chuan (蒼船), is a type of small sail-and-oar ship originated from Zhejiang. Although not considered part of the "Four Great Ancient Ships of China", it was Cang Shan Chuan, rather than the more famous Niao Chuan (鳥船), that should be seen as the representative ship type from Zhejiang during Ming period.

Being an extinct ship type, much less is known about Cang Shan Chuan than other Chinese junks, although information gleaned from written materials reveals that Cang Shan Chuan has a V- or S-bottom hull that is narrower than Fu Chuan (福船) but wider than Sha Chuan (沙船), as well as wide prow and stern. It has two decks, the lowest level of the ship serves as its ballast, while the berth deck right above serves as accommodation for ship crew. All nautical operations of Cang Shan Chuan, as well as primary fighting compartment of militarised version of the ship, are located on its exposed upper deck, although reinforced superstructure can still be installed for better protection. A true sail-and-oar ship, Cang Shan Chuan also comes equipped with ten oars, each rowed by four oarsmen. Unusually, all of its oars are mounted at the port and starboard quarters, rather than evenly spread over the entire length of the ship.

Originally built as fishing vessel, Cang Shan Chuan quickly gained favour in the Ming navy during Wokou campaign due to its general robustness (which also gave rise to its "iron" moniker), all-weather mobility, and ability to traverse shallow waters unreachable by Fu Chuan. Unfortunately, being one of the smallest Ming warships, Cang Shan Chuan was seen as merely on par, rather than superior to, Japanese warships, and therefore ill-suited for ramming attack and boarding action, as it could neither plough through Japanese ships like its larger cousins from Fujian and Guangdong, nor carry enough combatants to overwhelm the superior Japanese warriors in close combat. Nevertheless, Cang Shan Chuan excelled in the roles of patrolling, scouting, rescue operations, providing harassing firepower, pursuing fleeing ships, as well as picking dead bodies out of water after a naval engagement. 

Chong Mu Chuan (艟喬船)

Drawing of a Chong Mu Chuan, from 'Deng Tan Bi Jiu (《登壇必究》)'.
Chong Mu Chuan is essentially a modified Cang Shan Chuan that is upsized, but has its bulwarks removed (presumably to cut down on weight). Devised by famous Ming general Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光) to better combat the Wokou, Chong Mu Chuan's greater size allows it to overpower Japanese ships more easily without sacrificing the great mobility of smaller Cang Shan Chuan.

No comments:

Post a Comment

< > Home

Random Quotes & Trivia

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