The earliest Chinese karstologist Xu Xiake
Nataša Ravbar - (32/1,2003)
The first real scientific exploration of karst and karst caves in south China was undertaken by Xu Xiake (1587 - 1641). Chinese karst was studied by Xu Xiake for more than thirty years. He described his journeys to almost half of the territory of the Ming dynasty in his book Ĺ, Xu Xiake's travels« (Ĺ, Xu Xiake youji«), that was first published in 1642. He dedicated a lot of time to the research of the underground world by describing subterranean rivers and lakes as water resources. He also made ground plans of some caves, marked their entrances and described different shapes of speleothems. He first described different ways of climbing in caves and methods for cave research. Altogether he visited over 300 caves. Xu Xiake first described different types of the tropical karst and focused on the characteristics and reasons of the tower hills origin. He introduced the term fenglin (peak forest), which is still used in the scientific literature. However, he is not only the father of the modern speleology, karstology, geomorphology and geography in the Chinese scale but in a worldwide sense.