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China to open first fingerprint museum
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The Fingerprint Museum of China, established at the Jiangsu Police Institute, will open at the end of this year or early next year. This is the only museum of its kind in China, featuring more than 1,000 items together with pictures and displays for the visitors.

Most items are contracts and documents from the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to the Republic of China (1912-1949). One of the most precious items, dated September 14 of the 26th year of Guangxu's Reign (1900), is the whole palm print of the left hand on an inquest record of a revolutionist.

The whole palm print of the left hand of a revolutionist, which was found in an inquest record on September 14 of the 26th year of Guangxu's Reign (1900)

There is a traditional folk saying about fingerprints in China: when the lines of the fingerprint make a circle, Chinese people call it a dou, a measure made of wood or bamboo for dried grains; if it's more than half of a circle, it's called ji, meaning winnow; and if it's less than half a circle it is called gong, meaning bow.

The more dous people have in their ten fingers the richer they are destined to be. An old saying goes like this: one dou is the poor; two dous could be richer; three or four dous could be a soybean curd seller; five or six dous could open a pawnshop; if you have seven or eight dous, you can sit to travel (meaning be an official and travel by sedan); and if you have nine or ten dous you can be very rich even you never work.

A specialist of the museum said, although it's an old saying, it contains some scientific merit. From gong pattern to dou pattern, the fingerprint is more and more complicated, and according to some research result, the more complicated fingerprint a person has, the cleverer he will be.

China was the earliest country to identify people with the fingerprints. The expert said, discovering the truth that there's no two people sharing the same fingerprints and using this as a means of identification, is an invention no less important than the famous four great inventions in China, known as gunpowder, paper making, printing, and the compass.
An expert from the museum said, people left their fingerprints on earthenwares from the Neolithic Age, intentionally or accidentally. The museum has collected many of them.

Shen Guowen, the curator of the museum, said 5,000-year-old earthenware discovered at the Hongshan Culture site of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was drawn with special veins. Further research revealed it was a human fingerprint.

There is more than 5,000 years of history on the technique of fingerprint identification in China, referred to as "a technique that never makes mistakes."

The Jiangsu Police Institute was set up in Nanjing in 1936, which was named as the Central Police School at that time, as the capital of the Republic of China was in Nanjing. Fingerprint scout was listed as a formal course when it was established. The museum also collected pictures of the leaders of the Republic of China when they inspected the fingerprint lab of the school.

( by Chen Lin October 16, 2007)

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