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The Big Four Inventions
Special> The Big Four Inventions
UPDATED: August 26, 2008 NO. 35 AUG. 28
Scrolling Through Time
Olympics opening ceremony gives an unforgettable interpretation of China's four great inventions

TYPE CAST: Performers created the Chinese character for harmony through an innovative hidden dance sequence, to convey China's wishes for peace and harmony

A giant scroll painting rolled open at the center of the National Stadium, or Bird's Nest, during the Olympics opening ceremony on August 8, serving as the glittering stage for displaying China's 5,000-year-old civilization.

For almost three hours the color, dazzle and elements of Chinese magic captured the world's attention.

"It [unrolling scroll] will be the most classical snapshot of this opening ceremony in my memory," Zhang Yimou, the director of the design team of the breathtaking show, told Life Week on August 10. Zhang and his team creatively wove China's four great inventions-papermaking, moveable-type printing, compass and gunpowder, into the scroll to show off the highlights of Chinese civilization.

Collective painting

The scroll itself represented the ancient invention of papermaking, one of China's contributions to the spread and development of human civilization.

Cai Lun, an eunuch during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), is widely regarded as the person who improved the papermaking technique and reduced the cost of producing large volumes of fine paper. Recent archaeological discoveries date the actual invention of papermaking some 300 years earlier than Cai in the first century.

The scroll functioned as a thread throughout the opening ceremony and formed the backdrop to the unique performances. In the center of the scroll lay a sheet of blank "paper" on which dancers dressed in black moved their bodies to resemble the ink strokes from a brush. The movements created patterns that eventually formed a landscape painting, children painted the

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