1 February 2024

Tian Bing Jian (天兵箭)

Drawing of a Tian Bing Jian, from a Qing Dynasty print of 'Huo Long Jing (《火龍經》)'.
Tian Bing Jian (天兵箭, lit. 'Heavenly soldier arrow') is perhaps one of the most ingenious weapons ever devised before the modern era. It is essentially a huge war kite, seven to eight chi long and three to four chi wide and made of straw mat nailed to a wooden frame, which carries a rocket pod containing one hundred rocket arrows as well as dozens of bombs. Specifically designed for night raid, the rocket pod and bombs on the kite are ignited by a slow-burning incense fuse that gives off minimal light, allowing ample time for the kite to be guided to its target in complete darkness and silence before it begins to rain down fire and chaos, creating a scene that can be easily mistaken for divine judgement (hence its namesake).

A variant of the kite, known as Tian Lei Pao (天雷砲, lit. 'Heavenly thunder bomb'), replaces the rocket pod with a human bombardier. who is a death row convict being forcibly tied to the kite.

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