According to the Chinese solar terms, it’s Major Heat now, when most parts of China experience the hottest days of the year. During the scorching summer, we modern people can enjoy cold drinks in an air-conditioned room to escape the heat. But how did ancient people cool down without these modern-day technologies?
Icehouse and ice ticket
As early as Pre-Qin Dynasty (2100-221 BC), people used natural ice to keep food fresh and make cold drinks. According to the record in the Confucian classic Zhou Rites, the Zhou royal court had a specialized department called the “ice administration” which had 80 employees. The department collected natural ice blocks each December, and then transported them to the ice house for storage.
Some senior officials were awarded ice cubes by the Zhou royal court, which was a big honor during that time. The system of granting ice lasted until the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. During the Qing Dynasty, “ice tickets” were distributed to officials instead of sending the ice directly to them.
Source: Culture insider: How ancient people escaped the summer heat