Besides having a cool name, the sturdy, lightweight junk is known for being the first ship to feature a rudder mounted on its stern for steering. The Chinese junk ship was among the most powerful and easily navigable ships in the ancient world. A Chinese junk depicted in Travels in China: containing descriptions, observations, and comparisons, made and collected in the course of a short residence at the Imperial palace of Yuen-Min-Yuen, and on a subsequent journey through the country from Pekin to Canton, page 59 by John Barrow. The Chinese and other Asian cultures have used the junk ship for millennia. Junks had many uses in ancient Chinese culture, including fishing, transportation, trading, warfare and the exploration of Southeast Asia. Along with its innovative rudder steering system, junks were built to withstand rough seas, to be easy to maneuver, and to move quickly. The strong build of these ships allowed Chinese explorers to venture far and wide.
Junk (ship) - New World Encyclopedia
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These spines served several purposes. First of all, it sectioned the sail, protecting small rips and tears from compromising the rest of the sail. Secondly, they were linked in such a way that sailors could adjust the sails from the deck, without having to endanger themselves by climbing up the mast. The earliest sails were not made from canvas but from woven grass, which had to be dipped in tannins in order to be toughened up.
Junk , classic Chinese sailing vessel of ancient unknown origin, still in wide use. High-sterned, with projecting bow, the junk carries up to five masts on which are set square sails consisting of panels of linen or matting flattened by bamboo strips. Each sail can be spread or closed at a pull, like a venetian blind.