Secrets of the Mysterious Wine Mountain

Stories of incredible inventions from ancient China have been passed down to the present day, though the mechanisms they describe have long been lost. (Image: via  pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
Stories of incredible inventions from ancient China have been passed down to the present day, though the mechanisms they describe have long been lost. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Modern people believe living conditions in ancient times were very primitive. However, ancient Chinese science and technology was quite advanced. Papermaking, gunpowder, and the compass were all invented in China. Stories of other incredible inventions have been passed down to the present day, though the mechanisms they describe have long been lost.

Ma Daifeng was an accomplished craftsman from Donghai County of the Eastern Sea region who could make extremely delicate mechanisms. One of those mechanisms was known as the Wine Mountain. It consisted of a mountain that stood in the center of a disk. The diameter of the disk was 4 feet 5 inches. A large turtle underneath carried the disk on its back. All of the mechanisms were in the abdomen of the large turtle. The Wine Mountain erected at the center of the disk was roughly 3 inches high and the ridges and peaks were remarkable. The middle of the mountain was empty and could hold 30 liters of wine. Surrounding the mountain were pools of wine. The pools were also surrounded by mountains. In the pools of wine were lotus flowers. The flowers and leaves were made from cast iron. When the flowers bloomed, the leaves would unfold and could be used as plates. These leaves would hold dried meat, minced meat, and rare fruits and vegetables to go with the wine.

Halfway up the south side of the mountain, hidden inside, was a dragon that could emit a stream of wine. Below the dragon’s mouth was a large lotus leaf with a wine glass on it. The dragon would spit wine for 8 minutes until the glass was full. People could then go collect the glass to enjoy the wine. If you were too slow at drinking the wine, the doors of the double deck loft at the top of the mountain would automatically open. Out would come figures wearing clothes and hats and carrying a stick (for corporal punishment) to hurry you up. They would then place the glass once again back on the lotus leaf so the dragon could refill the glass with wine. Then they would return inside the double deck loft with the doors automatically shutting behind them. If there was still someone who was slowly drinking, they would come out again to hurry them up.

dragon

Halfway up the south side of the mountain, hidden inside, was a dragon that could emit a stream of wine. (Image: 11×16 Photoworks via flickr CC BY-ND 2.0)

All four sides of the mountain had dragons that would disgorge wine in this way. Although sometimes the wine would flow into the pools, there was a hidden hole in the pool so that the excess wine in the pool could flow back into the Wine Mountain. The wine in the pools would leave no mark until the banquet was over and all the wine was gone.

Translated by Fu Ming

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