Ancient Chinese Locks: Carriers of Chinese Culture

Ancient Chinese Locks: Carriers of Chinese Culture

Ancient Chinese locks represent the essence of Chinese civilization, embodying a rich and ancient cultural heritage. Mr. Yu Xueyun, a collector and connoisseur of ancient ceramics, a member of the Chinese Ancient Ceramics Society, and the curator of the Xiangyunxuan Jiangleyao Museum, recently gave an in-depth interpretation of Chinese lock culture in an interview with China News Service’s “East-West Questions.”


Origin and Development of Locks


The origin of ancient Chinese locks can be traced back to ancient times, and the development of locks has witnessed the evolution of human civilization. The earliest locks, such as wooden locks, were simple in form and function, but they already demonstrated human concern for property security.


Over time, locks underwent continuous improvement and refinement, progressing from early wooden locks to metal locks, such as iron and copper locks. The structure of locks also evolved through different types, including latch locks, spring locks, leaf spring locks, and pin tumbler locks.


Evolution of Locks


The function of ancient Chinese locks evolved from practicality to a combination of aesthetics and technology. From wooden locks to copper leaf spring locks, and then to leaf spring locks and pin tumbler locks, each type of lock not only ensured security but also emphasized aesthetics and technical content.


For example, copper leaf spring locks utilized the elasticity of copper plates to achieve sealing and opening, significantly improving safety and confidentiality compared to wooden locks.


Exchange and Mutual Learning of Chinese and Western Lock Cultures


The development of Chinese and Western lock cultures mutually influenced each other. During the ancient Roman period, Chinese-made spring locks entered the West via the Silk Road, contributing to the development of Western lock culture.


Conversely, the West, while absorbing the foundation of ancient Chinese lock culture, invented leaf spring locks and pin tumbler locks, further advancing the development of lock culture.


Locks: Microcosms of Chinese Blessing Culture


Ancient Chinese locks are not only tools for protecting property security but also microcosms of Chinese culture. Ancient people often used exquisite patterns and forms to express auspiciousness and blessings. For example, the “qing lock” expresses deep affection, while the “fish-shaped lock” symbolizes abundance year after year. The design of ancient locks not only emphasizes practicality but also carries people’s aspirations and blessings for a better life.


Inheritance and Development


Ancient Chinese locks are an important part of Chinese outstanding traditional culture, and how to inherit and carry forward this cultural heritage has become an important issue today.


By integrating the design concepts of ancient locks into modern lock design through innovation, not only can these cultural relics be revitalized, but cultural confidence can also be continuously enhanced, making greater contributions to the exchange and mutual learning between Chinese and Western civilizations.




Ancient Chinese locks, as treasures of Chinese culture, carry a rich history and cultural connotations. Through the inheritance and development of ancient locks, we can not only better understand the profoundness of Chinese civilization but also actively contribute to promoting the exchange and mutual learning between Chinese and Western civilizations

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