Matches Were Invented In Ancient China

Such sticks were stored for later use.

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There is no evidence of matches in Europe before 1530. Matches could easily have been brought to Europe by one of the Europeans travelling to China at the time of Marco Polo, since we know for certain that they were being sold in the street markets of Hangzhou or in that area, in the year 1270.

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Some Chinese scholars speculate that the first version of a match was invented in the year 577 AD by impoverished court women during a military siege by the Northern Zhou and Chen, in the short lived Chinese kingdom of the Northern Qi.

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Early matches were made with sulphur and it was a primitive kind of match. However, they were so useful that the Chinese poet Tao Gu called them light-bringing slaves.

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One gets a little flame like an ear of corn. This marvellous thing was formerly called a light-bringing slave, but afterwards when it became an article of commerce its name was changed to fire inch-stick.

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If there occurs an emergency at night it may take some time to make a light to light a lamp. But an ingenious man devised the system of impregnating little sticks of pinewood with sulphur and storing them ready for use. At the slightest touch of fire they burst into flame.

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Compiled in about 950 AD by Tao Ku, a book entitled Records of the Unworldly and the Strange described a similar method of dipping pine sticks in sulphur to produce fire.

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The first European experiments with phosphorus of sulfur matches started in second half of 17th century.

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There was timber shortage around this time but the women were not able to leave the city to search for it. They could otherwise not start fires for cooking or heating.

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