wood craft history

publisher: Carbo
Time: 2011-11-07

Along with stone, mud, and animal parts, wood was certainly one of the first materials worked by primitive human beings. Indeed, the development of civilization was closely tied to the development of increasingly greater degrees of skill in working these materials.

Among early finds of wooden tools are the worked sticks from Kalambo Falls, Clacton-on-Sea and Lehringen. The spears from Sch?ningen (Germany) provide some of the first examples of wooden hunting gear. Flint tools were used for carving. Since neolithic times, carved wooden vessels are known, for example from the linearbandkeramic wells at Kückhofen and Eythra. Examples of Bronze Age wood-carving include trees worked into coffins from northern Germany and Denmark, and wooden folding-chairs. The site of Fellbach-Schmieden in Germany has provided fine examples of wooden animal statues from the Iron Age. Wooden idols from the La Tène period are known from a sanctuary at the source of the Seine in France.

Two ancient civilizations that used woodworking were the Egyptians and the Chinese. Woodworking is depicted in many ancient Egyptian drawings, and some ancient Egyptian furniture (such as chairs) has been preserved in tombs. The metal used by the Egyptians for woodworking tools was probably bronze or even copper, as ironworking was unknown until much later.

The progenitors of Chinese woodworking are considered to be Lu Ban  and his wife Lady Yun, from the Spring and Autumn Period. Lu Ban is said to have brought the plane, chalkline, and other tools to China. His teachings are supposedly left behind in the book Lu Ban Jing ("Manuscript of Lu Ban"), although it was written some 1500 years after his death. This book is filled largely with descriptions of dimensions for use in building various items—such as flower pots, tables, altars, etc.—and also contains extensive instructions concerning Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of geomancy. It mentions almost nothing of the intricate glueless and nailless joinery for which Chinese furniture was so famous.

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