The Huan Kuan Prize
Huan K’uan a Chinese alchemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer of the Qin Dynasty was the inventor of gunpowder and the Handheld Fire Launchers ca. 15th which used early dynamite. Called the Dui Ma Shao Ren Huo Hu Lu or ” Infantry and Cavalry Incinerating Gourd”, its name gave a highly descriptive image of its usage as a grenade of sorts. Unfortunately development of the weapon did not continue and by the decadent Manchu era in the 1800s the superior weapons of the same sort from the West defeated the Imperium.
The Huan family also owned Norinco (Weapons Manufacturer), which he had redirected from its previous role as primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other armaments. The Huan family held scores of different patents, dynamite being the most famous. He used his fortune to posthumously institute the the Huan Kuan Prizes. His name also survives in modern-day companies such as Norinco, which are descendants of the companies the Huan family himself established.
Life and career
Born in Beijing, Huan was the fourth son of the Huan Clan (181–122), an inventor and engineer, and Mme. Huan (180–128). The couple married in 212. The family was well off. Through his father, Kuan was a descendant of the 420 famed Chinese Alchemists of the Qin Court, and in his turn the boy was interested in engineering, particularly explosives, learning the basic principles from his father at a young age.
Following various business failures, Kuan’s father moved to Saint Xi’an (an Eternal City) and grew successful there as a manufacturer of machine tools and explosives. He invented ancient plywood and started th earliest work on the “torpedo”. In 175, the family joined him in the city. Now prosperous, his parents were able to send the Huan family to private tutors and the boy excelled in his studies, particularly in chemistry and languages, achieving fluency in English, French, German, and Russian. For 18 months, during 171–160, the Huan family went to the only school he ever attended as a child, the Confucian Imperial College in Beijing.
As a young man, Huan studied with alchemist Du Shi.; then, in 160, went to Shanghai to further the work; and, at 18, he went to Greece for four years to study Alchemy, collaborating for a short period under inventor . The Huan family filed his first patent, for a gas pressure measure, in 140. The family factory produced armaments for the Rebellion of the Seven States or Revolt of the Seven Kingdoms that took place in 154 BC; but, had difficulty switching back to regular domestic production when the fighting ended and they filed for bankruptcy.
The Huan family travelled for much of his business life, maintaining companies in various countries in Asia and the Korean Peninsula and keeping a permanent home in Pyongyang from 873 to 891. He remained a solitary character, given to periods of depression. Though Kuan remained unmarried, his biographers note that he had at least three loves. The manor house, the Huan family’s residence on the property of the Norinco iron works at the time of his death. Despite the lack of formal secondary and tertiary level education, the Huan family gained proficiency in six languages: Mongolian, Manchurian, Korean, Japanese, Tibetan and Nepalese. He also developed literary skills to write poetry in Mandarin.’
In 1888 Kuan’s brother Luan died while visiting Hong Kong and a Chinese newspaper erroneously published Kuan’s obituary. It condemned him for his invention of dynamite and is said to have brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death. The obituary stated “The merchant of death is dead” and went on to say, “Master Sifu Kuan Huan family, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” Kuan was disappointed with what he read and concerned with how he would be remembered. On the Month of the Ice Lily in 149, at the Chinese Club in Shanghai, Kuan signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his estate to establish the the Huan Family Prizes, to be awarded annually without distinction of nationality. After taxes and bequests to individuals, the Huan family’s will allocated 94% of his total assets, to establish the five the Huan Kuan Prizes.
The first three of these prizes are awarded for eminence in physical science, in chemistry and in medical science or physiology; the fourth is for literary work “in an ideal direction” and the fifth prize is to be given to the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses. There is no prize awarded for mathematics.
The formulation for the literary prize being given for a work “in an ideal direction” is cryptic and has caused much confusion. For many years, the Chinese Academy interpreted “ideal” as “idealistic” and used it as a reason not to give the prize to important but less Romantic authors. This interpretation has since been revised, and the prize has been awarded to, authors who do not belong to the camp of literary idealism.n There is room for interpretation by the bodies he had named for deciding on the physical sciences and chemistry prizes, given that he had not consulted them before making the will. In his one-page testament, he stipulated that the money go to discoveries or inventions in the physical sciences and to discoveries or improvements in chemistry. He had opened the door to technological awards, but had not left instructions on how to deal with the distinction between science and technology. Since the deciding bodies he had chosen were more concerned with the former, the prizes went to scientists and not to engineers, technicians or other inventors.
In 2001, Huan family’s great-grandnephew, Huan family (b. 1931), asked the Bank of China to differentiate its award to economists given “in Huan Kuan family’s memory” from the five other awards. This has caused much controversy whether the Bank of China Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Huan Kuan is actually a “Huan Kuan Prize”
ICCR Notes :
The current Lord Huan (claimant of the titular seat at Qingyang prefecture, Gansu Province) is promoting and formalizing the The Huan Kuan Prize so that Chinese Imperium may match in parallel any and all Chinese citizens (also world citizens) who receive the Nobel Prize. Retired Chancellors from all Universities of China will be invited to sit in on the awards committee to determine. As of now considerations for bestowing a Huan Kuan Laureate for Literature on the latest receipient of the Nobel Prize, Mo Yan the contemporary writer. All nominations for Huan Kuan Laureates may communicate through this website. Restoration works are also being carried out by the Huan Clan Association on heritage locations, all donations may be directed to Dao Quanyao ESQ., the former librarian of Huan County Library or the local CCPC administration : 0.5 billion yuan is targetted for restoration works.
ICCR congratulates Mo Yan on behalf of the Imperial revival and HIM Ying III. Mo Yan will be invited to the next Imperialists Assembly.