Mongol Invasion

In the 1260s the sophisticated, peaceful society of Song Dynasty China was confronted by its nemesis. Huge armies of Mongol cavalry and auxiliary troops gathered from all corners of their vast empire to invade the Song heartlands.

The most ruthless military machine in history rolled south. Only the courage and ingenuity of the Chinese people stood between them and new, alien rulers.

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War and Gunpowder

The Chinese had invented gunpowder centuries before the Mongol invasion. Guang, as a skilled Captain of Artillery, has a vast range of bombs and early firearms to supplement the traditional sword, bow and crossbows used by Chinese troops to fend off their enemies.

Below is a contemporary image of rocket arrows in use.

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The Art of Healing

Chinese traditional medicine plays a large role in Breaking Bamboo. Dr Shih runs a state funded clinic for the poor – an historically accurate feature of Song society, where it was assumed the Emperor would prove his fitness to rule by helping the people.


Medicine for him involves magic and ritual as well as more familiar methods, such as acupuncture, herbal remedies and massage. As a skilful doctor he is an expert in reading the balance of yin and yang in a patient’s pulse. He is also well versed in moxibustion – burning cones of mugwort leaves on a patient’s bare skin to stimulate chi energy. Many of these practises are still used to today.