Zheng He
Overview
 
Zheng He also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin was a Hui-Chinese
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 mariner, explorer
Exploration
Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...

, diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

, South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

, the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, and East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

, collectively referred to as the Voyages of Zheng He or Voyages of Cheng Ho from 1405 to 1433.
Zheng, born as Ma He (馬和 / 马和), was the second son of a Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 family which also had four daughters, from Kunyang, present day Jinning, just south of Kunming
Kunming
' is the capital and largest city of Yunnan Province in Southwest China. It was known as Yunnan-Fou until the 1920s. A prefecture-level city, it is the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of Yunnan, and is the seat of the provincial government...

 near the southwest corner of Lake Dian in Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

.

He was the great great great grandson of Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar
Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar
Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar al-Bukhari was Yunnan's first provincial governor in history, appointed by the Mongol Yuan Dynasty....

, a Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 who served in the administration of the Mongolian Empire and was appointed governor of Yunnan during the early Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Zheng He also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin was a Hui-Chinese
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 mariner, explorer
Exploration
Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...

, diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

, South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

, the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, and East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

, collectively referred to as the Voyages of Zheng He or Voyages of Cheng Ho from 1405 to 1433.

Life

Zheng, born as Ma He (馬和 / 马和), was the second son of a Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 family which also had four daughters, from Kunyang, present day Jinning, just south of Kunming
Kunming
' is the capital and largest city of Yunnan Province in Southwest China. It was known as Yunnan-Fou until the 1920s. A prefecture-level city, it is the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of Yunnan, and is the seat of the provincial government...

 near the southwest corner of Lake Dian in Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

.

He was the great great great grandson of Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar
Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar
Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar al-Bukhari was Yunnan's first provincial governor in history, appointed by the Mongol Yuan Dynasty....

, a Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 who served in the administration of the Mongolian Empire and was appointed governor of Yunnan during the early Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

. Both his grandfather and great-grandfather carried the title of Hajji
Hajji
Hajji or El-Hajj, is an honorific title given to a Muslim person who has successfully completed the Hajj to Mecca, and is often used to refer to an elder, since it can take time to accumulate the wealth to fund the travel. The title is placed before a person's name...

, which indicates they had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. His great-grandfather was named Bayan and may have been a member of a Mongol garrison in Yunnan.

In 1381, the year his father was killed, following the defeat of the Northern Yuan, a Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 army was dispatched to Yunnan to put down the army of the Mongol
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 Yuan loyalist Basalawarmi
Basalawarmi
Basalawarmi , commonly known by his hereditary title, the Prince of Liang, was a descendant of Kublai Khan and a Yuan Dynasty loyalist who fought against the ascendant Ming Dynasty in China.-Before the fall of the Yuan:...

 during the Ming conquest of Yunnan
Ming conquest of Yunnan
The Ming conquest of Yunnan was the final phase in the Chinese Ming dynasty expulsion of Mongol Yuan dynasty rule from China in the 1380s.-War:Muslim troops fought in both the Chinese Ming army and the Yuan Mongol army....

. Ma He, then only eleven years old, was captured by the Ming Muslim troops of Lan Yu and Fu Youde and made a eunuch
Eunuch
A eunuch is a person born male most commonly castrated, typically early enough in his life for this change to have major hormonal consequences...

. He was sent to the court of one the emperor
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

's son, Zhu Di the Prince of Yan
Yan (state)
Yān was a state during the Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history. Its capital was Ji...

, where he was called San Bao (三寶/三宝, or 三保) meaning 'Three Jewels.' The young eunuch eventually became a trusted adviser of the Prince of Yan, and assisted the prince in his insurrection against his nephew the Jianwen Emperor
Jianwen Emperor
The Jianwen Emperor , with the personal name Zhu Yunwen , reigned as the second Emperor of the Ming dynasty...

. For his valor in this war, the eunuch received the name Zheng He from his master. Once Zhu Di deposed Jianwen and became crowned as Yongle Emperor
Yongle Emperor
The Yongle Emperor , born Zhu Di , was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China from 1402 to 1424. His Chinese era name Yongle means "Perpetual Happiness".He was the Prince of Yan , possessing a heavy military base in Beiping...

 (r. 1403-1424), Zheng He continued serving in his court as a Eunuch Grand Director (太監, taijian). It was during the Yongle era that Zheng He, with the rank of Chief Envoy (正使, zheng shi) carried his first of six overseas missions.

In 1425 Yongle's successor the Hongxi Emperor
Hongxi Emperor
The Hongxi Emperor was the fourth emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. He succeeded his father, the Yongle Emperor, in 1424. His era name means "Vastly bright".-Biography:...

 appointed Zheng He to be Defender of Nanjing. In 1428 the Xuande Emperor
Xuande Emperor
The Xuande Emperor was Emperor of China from 1425 to 1435. His era name means "Proclamation of Virtue".-Biography:...

 ordered him to complete the construction of the magnificent Buddhist nine-storied Da Baoen Temple
Porcelain Tower of Nanjing
The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing , also known as Bao'ensi , is a historical site located on the south bank of the Yangtze in Nanjing, China...

 in Nanjing, and in 1430 appointed him to lead the seventh and final expedition to the "Western Ocean". It is commonly believed that Zheng He died during the treasure fleet's last voyage, on the returning trip after the fleet reached Hormuz
Ormus
The Kingdom of Ormus was a 10th to 17th century kingdom located within the Persian Gulf and extending as far as the Strait of Hormuz...

 in 1433.

Expeditions

Between 1405 and 1433, the Ming government sponsored seven naval expeditions. The Yongle emperor designed them to establish a Chinese presence, impose imperial control over trade, impress foreign peoples in the Indian Ocean basin and extend the empire's tributary system. It has also been claimed, on the basis of later texts, that the voyages also presented an opportunity to seek out Zhu Yunwen (the previous emperor whom the Yongle emperor had usurped and who was rumored to have fled into exile) – possibly the "largest scale manhunt on water in the history of China".

Zheng He was placed as the admiral in control of the huge fleet and armed forces that undertook these expeditions. Wang Jinghong
Wang Jinghong
Wang Jinghong was a Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who was deputy to Zheng He on his voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East Africa, collectively referred to as the travels of "Eunuch Sanbao to the Western Ocean" or "Zheng He to the Western Ocean", from 1405 to...

 was appointed his second in command. Zheng He's first voyage, which departed July 11, 1405, from Suzhou
Suzhou
Suzhou , previously transliterated as Su-chou, Suchow, and Soochow, is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part...

, consisted of a fleet of 317 ships (other sources say 200 ships) holding almost 28,000 crewmen (each ship housing up to 500 men).

Zheng He's fleets visited Arabia, Brunei
Brunei
Brunei , officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace , is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia...

, East Africa, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Maritime Southeast Asia
Maritime Southeast Asia
Maritime Southeast Asia refers to the maritime region of Southeast Asia as opposed to mainland Southeast Asia and includes the modern countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, East Timor and Singapore....

 and Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, dispensing and receiving goods along the way. Zheng He presented gifts of gold, silver, porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

 and silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

; in return, China received such novelties as ostriches, zebras, camels, ivory and a giraffe.

While Zheng He's fleet was unprecedented (compared to previous voyages from China to the east Indian Ocean), the routes were not. Zheng He's fleet was following long-established, well-mapped routes. Sea-based trade links had existed between China and the Arabian peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 since the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (there being trade with the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 at that time.) During the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

, the king of Wu
Wu
Wu may refer to:Places:* Wu , a region in China, associated with:** Wu Chinese, a variety of spoken Chinese spoken in the Wu region** Wu , a state in the Wu region during the Spring and Autumn Period...

 sent a diplomatic mission along the coast of Asia, reaching as far as the Eastern Roman Empire. During the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

, there was large scale maritime trade from China reaching as far as the Arabian peninsula and East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

.

Zheng He generally sought to attain his goals through diplomacy, and his large army awed most would-be enemies into submission. But a contemporary reported that Zheng He "walked like a tiger" and did not shrink from violence when he considered it necessary to impress foreign peoples with China's military might. He ruthlessly suppressed pirates who had long plagued Chinese and southeast Asian waters. For example, he would defeat Chen Zuyi, one of the most feared and respected pirate captains, and return him back to China for execution. He also waged a land war
Ming-Kotte War
The Ming-Kotte War was a conflict between the Ming Dynasty of present-day China and the Kingdom of Kotte, a former kingdom located in the southwest of present day Sri Lanka in 1410 or 1411. The war was to stop piracy and a quest for tooth relic of Buddha. Leading 2000 marines, the Chinese admiral...

 against the Kingdom of Kotte
Kotte
Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte , also known as Sri Jayawardenapura or Kotte කෝට්ටේ, is the administrative capital of Sri Lanka. It is located beyond the eastern suburbs of the commercial capital Colombo and is often called New Capital Territory...

 in Ceylon, and he made displays of military force when local officials threatened his fleet in Arabia and East Africa. From his fourth voyage, he brought envoys from thirty states who traveled to China and paid their respects at the Ming court.

In 1424, the Yongle Emperor died. His successor, the Hongxi Emperor (reigned 1424–1425), decided to stop the voyages during his short reign. Zheng He made one more voyage during the reign of Hongxi's son Xuande Emperor (reigned 1426–1435), but after that the voyages of the Chinese treasure ship fleets were ended. Xuande believed his father's decision to halt the voyages meritorious, and thus "there would be no need to make a detailed description of his grandfather’s sending Zheng He to the Western Oceans." This, and the fact that the voyages "were contrary to the rules stipulated in the Huangming zuxun, Ancestral Injunctions of the August Ming," the royal founding documents laid down by the Hongwu Emperor
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

, account for the Ming "neglect" of Zheng He in official accounts and the scant records of the voyages available for later historians.

Zheng He died during the treasure fleet's last voyage. Although he has a tomb in China, it is empty: he was, like many great admirals, buried at sea.

Voyages

Order Time Regions along the way
1st Voyage 1405–1407 Champa
Champa
The kingdom of Champa was an Indianized kingdom that controlled what is now southern and central Vietnam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832.The Cham people are remnants...

, Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, Palembang
Palembang
Palembang is the capital city of the South Sumatra province in Indonesia. Palembang is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, and has a history of being a capital of a maritime empire. Located on the Musi River banks on the east coast of southern Sumatra island, it has an area of 400.61 square...

, Malacca
Malacca
Malacca , dubbed The Historic State or Negeri Bersejarah among locals) is the third smallest Malaysian state, after Perlis and Penang. It is located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, on the Straits of Malacca. It borders Negeri Sembilan to the north and the state of Johor to the south...

, Aru (id:Aru), Samudera
Pasai
Pasai, also known as Samudera and Samudera-Pasai sometimes called Samudera Darussalam was a Muslim harbour kingdom on the north coast of Sumatra from the 13th to the 15th centuries CE. It was believed the word Samudera derived from Samudra meaning ocean in Sanskrit...

, Lambri, Ceylon
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, Kollam
Kollam
Kollam , often anglicized as ', is a city in the Indian state of Kerala. The city lies on the banks of Ashtamudi Lake on the Arabian sea coast and is situated about north of the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram...

, Cochin
Kochi (India)
Kochi , formerly Cochin, is a major port city on the west coast of India by the Arabian Sea. Kochi is part of the district of Ernakulam in the state of Kerala. Kochi is often called by the name Ernakulam, which refers to the western part of the mainland Kochi...

, Calicut
History of Kozhikode
Kozhikode , also known as Calicut, is a city in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It is the third largest city in Kerala and the headquarters of Kozhikode district....

2nd Voyage 1407–1409 Champa, Java, Siam, Cochin, Ceylon
3rd Voyage 1409–1411 Champa, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Quilon
Quilon
Quilon may refer to,* Venad, a former state on Malabar Coast, India* Kollam , Kerala state, India* Kollam district, Kerala state...

, Cochin, Calicut, Siam, Lambri, Kayal
Kayalpatnam
Kayalpatnam or Korkai is a town in the Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu, India. Kayal is referred to in Marco Polo's travel diaries dating to 1250 AD. Korkai or Kayal was an ancient port dating to the 1st centuries of the Christian era and was contemporaneous to the existence of Kollam, another...

, Coimbatore
Coimbatore
Coimbatore , also known as Kovai , is the second largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a major commercial centre in Tamil Nadu and is known as the "Manchester of South India"....

, Puttanpur
4th Voyage 1413–1415 Champa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Cochin, Calicut, Kayal, Pahang
Pahang
Pahang is the third largest state in Malaysia, after Sarawak and Sabah, occupying the huge Pahang River river basin. It is bordered to the north by Kelantan, to the west by Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, to the south by Johor and to the east by Terengganu and the South China Sea.Its state...

, Kelantan
Kelantan
Kelantan is a state of Malaysia. The capital and royal seat is Kota Bharu. The Arabic honorific of the state is Darul Naim, ....

, Aru, Lambri, Hormuz
Hormozgan Province
Hormozgan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the south of the country, facing Oman. Its area is , and its provincial capital is Bandar Abbas...

, Maldives
Maldives
The Maldives , , officially Republic of Maldives , also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls oriented north-south off India's Lakshadweep islands, between Minicoy Island and...

, Mogadishu
Mogadishu
Mogadishu , popularly known as Xamar, is the largest city in Somalia and the nation's capital. Located in the coastal Benadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for centuries....

, Barawa
Barawa
Barawa or Brava is a port town on the south-eastern coast of Somalia. The traditional inhabitants are the Tunni Somalis and the Bravanese people, who speak Bravanese, a Swahili dialect.-History:...

, Malindi
Malindi
Malindi is a town on Malindi Bay at the mouth of the Galana River, lying on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya. It is 120 kilometres northeast of Mombasa. The population of Malindi is 117,735 . It is the capital of the Malindi District.Tourism is the major industry in Malindi. The city is...

, Aden
Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

, Muscat
Muscat, Oman
Muscat is the capital of Oman. It is also the seat of government and largest city in the Governorate of Muscat. As of 2008, the population of the Muscat metropolitan area was 1,090,797. The metropolitan area spans approximately and includes six provinces called wilayats...

, Dhofar
Dhofar
The Dhofar region lies in Southern Oman, on the eastern border with Yemen. Its mountainous area covers and has a population of 215,960 as of the 2003 census. The largest town in the region is Salalah. Historically, it was the chief source of frankincense in the world. However, its frankincense...

5th Voyage 1416–1419 Champa, Pahang, Java, Malacca, Samudera, Lambri, Ceylon, Sharwayn, Cochin, Calicut, Hormuz, Maldives, Mogadishu, Barawa, Malindi, Aden
6th Voyage 1421–1422 Hormuz, East Africa, countries of the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

7th Voyage 1430–1433 Champa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Fengtu ... (18 states in total)


Zheng He led seven expeditions to what the Chinese called "the Western Ocean" (Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

). He brought back to China many trophies and envoys from more than thirty kingdoms – including King Vira Alakeshwara of Ceylon, who came to China as a captive to apologize to the Emperor.

There are speculations that some of Zheng's ships may have traveled beyond the Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...

. In particular, the Venetian
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 monk and cartographer Fra Mauro
Fra Mauro
Fra Mauro, O.S.B. Cam., was a 15th-century Camaldolese monk who lived in the Republic of Venice. He was a monk of the Monastery of St. Michael, located on the island of Murano in the Venetian Lagoon. It was there that he maintained a cartography workshop.In his youth, Mauro had traveled...

 describes in his 1459 Fra Mauro map
Fra Mauro map
The Fra Mauro map, "considered the greatest memorial of medieval cartography" according to Roberto Almagià, is a map made around 1450 by the Venetian monk Fra Mauro...

 the travels of a huge "junk
Junk (ship)
A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing vessel design still in use today. Junks were developed during the Han Dynasty and were used as sea-going vessels as early as the 2nd century AD. They evolved in the later dynasties, and were used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages...

 from India" 2,000 miles into the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 in 1420. What Fra Mauro meant by 'India' is not known and some scholars believe he meant an Arab ship. However, Professor Su Ming-Yang thinks "the ship is European, as it is fitted with a crow’s nest, or lookout post, at the masthead, and has sails fitted to the yards, unlike the batten sails of Chinese ships."

Zheng himself wrote of his travels:

We have traversed more than 100,000 li (50,000 kilometers or 30,000 miles) of immense water spaces and have beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising in the sky, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions far away hidden in a blue transparency of light vapors, while our sails, loftily unfurled like clouds day and night, continued their course [as rapidly] as a star, traversing those savage waves as if we were treading a public thoroughfare…
— Tablet erected by Zheng He, Changle
Changle
ChangLe is a county-level city of suburban Fuzhou located in east Fujian province, People's Republic of China. Administered by Fuzhou city. Changle occupies a land area of 648 square kilometers and a sea area of 1327 square kilometers. Changle was established in the sixth year of Emperor Wu-De ...

, Fujian
Fujian
' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

, 1432. Louise Levathes

Sailing charts

Zheng He's sailing charts were published in a book entitled Wubei Zhi (Treatise on Armament Technology) written in 1621 and published in 1628 but traced back to Zheng He's and earlier voyages. It was originally a strip map 20.5 cm by 560 cm that could be rolled up, but was divided into 40 pages which vary in scale from 7 miles/inch in the Nanjing area to 215 miles/inch in parts of the African coast.

There is little attempt to provide an accurate 2-D representation; instead the sailing instructions are given using a 24 point compass
Compass
A compass is a navigational instrument that shows directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth. The frame of reference defines the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west. Intermediate directions are also defined...

 system with a Chinese symbol for each point, together with a sailing time/distance, which takes account of the local currents and winds. Sometimes depth soundings are also provided. It also shows bays, estuaries, capes and islands, ports and mountains along the coast, important landmarks (pagodas, temples) and shoal rocks. Of 300 named places outside China, more than 80% can be confidently located. There are also fifty observations of stellar altitude.

Size of the ships

Traditional and popular accounts of Zheng He's voyages have described a great fleet of gigantic ships, far larger than any other wooden ships in history. Some modern scholars consider these descriptions to be exaggerated.

Chinese records assert that Zheng He's fleet sailed as far as East Africa. According to medieval Chinese sources, Zheng He commanded seven expeditions. The 1405 expedition consisted of 27,800 men and a fleet of 62 treasure ships supported by approximately 190 smaller ships. The fleet included:
  • Treasure ship
    Treasure ship
    A Treasure ship is the name for a type of large wooden vessel commanded by the Chinese admiral Zheng He on seven voyages in the early 15th century in Ming Dynasty...

    s
    (Chinese:宝船), used by the commander of the fleet and his deputies (nine-masted, about 126.73 metres (416 ft) long and 51.84 metres (170 ft) wide), according to later writers . This is more or less the size and shape of a football field.
  • Equine ships (Chinese:馬船), carrying horses and tribute goods and repair material for the fleet (eight-masted, about 103 m (339 ft) long and 42 m (138 ft) wide).
  • Supply ships (Chinese:粮船), containing staple for the crew (seven-masted, about 78 m (257 ft) long and 35 m (115 ft) wide).
  • Troop transports (Chinese:兵船), six-masted, about 67 m (220 ft) long and 25 m (83 ft) wide.
  • Fuchuan warships (Chinese:福船), five-masted, about 50 m (165 ft) long.
  • Patrol boats (Chinese:坐船), eight-oared, about 37 m (120 ft) long.
  • Water tankers (Chinese:水船), with 1 month's supply of fresh water.


Six more expeditions took place, from 1407 to 1433, with fleets of comparable size.

If the accounts can be taken as factual, Zheng He's treasure ships were mammoth ships with nine masts, four decks, and were capable of accommodating more than 500 passengers, as well as a massive amount of cargo. Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

 and Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

 both described multi-masted ships carrying 500 to 1000 passengers in their translated accounts. Niccolò Da Conti
Niccolò Da Conti
Niccolò de' Conti was an Italian merchant and explorer of the Republic of Venice, born in Chioggia, who traveled to India and Southeast Asia, and possibly to Southern China, during the early 15th century...

, a contemporary of Zheng He, was also an eyewitness of ships in Southeast Asia, claiming to have seen 5 masted junks weighing about 2000 tons. There are even some sources that claim some of the treasure ships might have been as long as 600 feet. On the ships were navigators, explorers, sailors, doctors, workers, and soldiers along with the translator and diarist Gong Zhen
Gong Zhen
Gong Zhen was a fifteenth century translator and writer famous for his association with the Chinese admiral Zheng He.-Life:Born near Nanjing in present day Jiangsu Province during the Ming Dynasty , Gong Zhen’s dates of birth and death are not recorded but it is known that his father was a soldier...

.

The largest ships in the fleet, the treasure ships described in Chinese chronicles, would have been several times larger than any wooden ship ever recorded in history, surpassing l'Orient (65 m (213.3 ft) long) which was built in the late 18th century. The first ships to attain 126 m (413.4 ft) long were 19th century steamers with iron hulls. Some scholars argue that it is highly unlikely that Zheng He's ship was 450 feet (137.2 m) in length, some estimating that they were 390 – long and 160 – wide instead while others put them as small as 200 – in length, which would make them smaller than the equine, supply, and troop ships in the fleet.

One explanation for the seemingly inefficient size of these colossal ships was that the largest 44 Zhang treasure ships were merely used by the Emperor and imperial bureaucrats to travel along the Yangtze for court business, including reviewing Zheng He's expedition fleet. The Yangtze river, with its calmer waters, may have been navigable by these treasure ships. Zheng He, a court eunuch, would not have had the privilege in rank to command the largest of these ships, seaworthy or not. The main ships of Zheng He's fleet were instead 6 masted 2000-liao ships.

South and Southeast Asia

In his book 'The Overall Survey of the Ocean Shores' (Chinese: 瀛涯勝覽) written in 1416, Ma Huan, one of Zheng He's chroniclers and interpreters, gave very detailed accounts of his observations of the peoples' customs and lives in ports they visited.

The Galle Trilingual Inscription
Galle Trilingual Inscription
The Galle Trilingual Inscription was a stone tablet inscription in three languages, Chinese, Tamil and Persian, that was erected in 1411 in Galle, Sri Lanka to commemorate the second visit to the island by the Chinese admiral Zheng He...

 stone tablet, erected by Zheng He around 1410 in Sri Lanka, records details about contributions of gold, silver, and silk that Zheng He made on behalf of the emperor at a Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 mountain temple. Also, a commemorative pillar at the temple of the Taoist
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

 Tian Fei, the Celestial Spouse, in Fujian province records details about his voyages. It has the inscription:
We have traversed more than 100,000 li (50,000 kilometers) of immense water spaces and have beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising in the sky, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions far away hidden in a blue transparency of light vapors, while our sails, loftily unfurled like clouds day and night, continued their course [as rapidly] as a star, traversing those savage waves as if we were treading a public thoroughfare…
—Erected by Zheng He, Changle, Fujian, 1432. Louise Levathes

In Malacca

At the time when his fleet first arrived in Malacca, Chinese people were already living there. Ma Huan refers to them as tángrén (Chinese: 唐人).
Ming China found Malacca to be a useful transit centre for replenishment of fleet supplies, and received valuable gifts from Zheng He's fleet. The sultan and sultana of Malacca at the time visited China at the head of over 540 of their subjects and ample tribute. Sultan Mansur Shah
Mansur Shah of Malacca
Sultan Mansur Shah was the sixth Sultan of Malacca. He ruled Malacca from 1459 to 1477. He ascended the throne after the death of his father, Muzaffar Shah.-Expansions of Malaccan Empire:Mansur Shah implemented a policy of expansionism during his rule...

 (ruled 1459–1477) later dispatched Tun Perpatih Putih as his envoy to China, carrying a letter from the sultan to the Ming emperor. The letter requested the hand of an imperial daughter in marriage. In the year 1459, a princess (Hang Li Po
Hang Li Po
Hang Li Po was the fifth wife of Malaccan Sultan Mansur Shah . It is disputed whether Hang Li Po ever existed since she was never recorded in the Ming Chronicles of the ruling Chinese Ming Dynasty nor in the genealogical record of the imperial house of Zhu, the royal family of the Ming dynasty...

 or Hang Liu), was sent by the Ming emperor to marry the sultan. The princess came with 500 sons of ministers and a few hundred handmaidens as her entourage. They eventually settled in Bukit Cina
Bukit Cina
Bukit Cina is a hillside of historical significance in the capital of Malaysian state of Malacca, Malacca Town. It is located several kilometers to the north from the historical center of Malacca , but these days, it's surrounded by the modern city on all sides.-History:According to the local...

, Malacca. It is believed that a significant number of them married into the local populace. The descendants of these mixed marriages are locally known today as Peranakan
Peranakan
Peranakan Chinese and Baba-Nyonya are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants to the Indonesian archipelago of Nusantara during the Colonial era....

 and still use the honorifics Baba (male title) and Nyonya (female title).

In Malaysia today, many people believe that Admiral Zheng He (who died in 1433) sent princess Hang Li Po to Malacca in the year 1459. However there is no record of Hang Li Po (or Hang Liu) in Ming history. She is mentioned only within Malaccan folklore and in the Sejarah Melayu or Malay Annals.

Islam

Accounts contemporary to Zheng He's era suggest he may have been a Muslim; these include the writings of the Muslim Ma Huan.

Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

n religious leader and Islamic scholar Hamka
Hamka
Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah, known as Hamka was a prominent Indonesian author, ulema and politician. His father, syekh Abdul Karim Amrullah, known as Haji Rasul, led and inspired the reform movement in Sumatra upon his arrival from the holy land Mecca in 1906...

 (1908–1981) wrote in 1961: "The development of Islam in Indonesia and Malaya
Federation of Malaya
The Federation of Malaya is the name given to a federation of 11 states that existed from 31 January 1948 until 16 September 1963. The Federation became independent on 31 August 1957...

 is intimately related to a Chinese Muslim, Admiral Zheng He."
In Malacca he built granaries, warehouses and a stockade.
Indonesian scholar Slamet Muljana writes: "Zheng He built Chinese Muslim communities first in Palembang, then in San Fa (West Kalimantan), subsequently he founded similar communities along the shores of Java, the Malay Peninsula
Malay Peninsula
The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland...

 and the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. They preached Islam according to the Hanafi
Hanafi
The Hanafi school is one of the four Madhhab in jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. The Hanafi madhhab is named after the Persian scholar Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit , a Tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani...

 school of thought and in Chinese language."

Li Tong Cai, in his book 'Indonesia – Legends and Facts', writes: "in 1430, Zheng He had already successfully established the foundations of the Hui religion Islam. After his death in 1434, Hajji Yan Ying Yu became the force behind the Chinese Muslim community, and he delegated a few local Chinese as leaders, such as trader Sun Long from Semarang, Peng Rui He and Hajji Peng De Qin. Sun Long and Peng Rui He actively urged the Chinese community to 'Javanise'. They encouraged the younger Chinese generation to assimilate with the Javanese society, to take on Javanese names and their way of life. Sun Long's adopted son Chen Wen, also known as Radin Pada (Raden Patah), is the son of King Majapahit and his Chinese wife."

The Hanafi Islam that some from the fleet may have propagated lost almost all contact with its parent in China, and gradually was totally absorbed by the local Shafi’i school of thought. Long before 600 years had elapsed, the presence of ethnic Chinese Muslims had declined to almost nil.

Connection to the history of Late Imperial China

In the 1950s, historians such as John Fairbank and Joseph Needham popularized the idea that after Zheng He's voyages China turned away from the seas due to the Hai jin
Hai jin
The Hǎi Jìn order was a ban on maritime activities imposed during China's Ming Dynasty and again at the time of the Qing Dynasty. Intended to curb piracy, the ban proved ineffective for that purpose...

edict and was isolated from European technological advancements. Modern historians point out that Chinese maritime commerce did not totally stop after Zheng He, that Chinese ships continued to dominate Southeast Asian commerce until the 19th century and that active Chinese trading with India and East Africa continued long after the time of Zheng. The travels of the Chinese Junk Keying
Junk Keying
Keying was a three-masted, 800-ton Foochow Chinese trading junk which sailed from China around the Cape of Good Hope to the United States and Britain between 1846 and 1848....

to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 between 1846 and 1848 testify to the power of Chinese shipping until the 19th century. Moreover revisionist historians such as Jack Goldstone
Jack Goldstone
Jack A. Goldstone is an American sociologist and political scientist, specializing in studies of social movements, revolutions, and international politics. According to Peter Turchin , he made a significant contribution to the development of cliodynamics...

 argue that the Zheng He voyages ended for practical reasons that did not reflect the technological level of China.

Although the Ming Dynasty did ban shipping with the Hai jin edict, they eventually lifted this ban. By banning oceangoing shipping, the Ming (and later Qing) dynasties had forced countless numbers of people into black market smuggling
Smuggling
Smuggling is the clandestine transportation of goods or persons, such as out of a building, into a prison, or across an international border, in violation of applicable laws or other regulations.There are various motivations to smuggle...

. This reduced government tax revenue and increased piracy
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

. The lack of an oceangoing navy then left China highly vulnerable to the Wokou
Wokou
Wokou , which literally translates as "Japanese pirates" in English, were pirates of varying origins who raided the coastlines of China and Korea from the 13th century onwards...

 pirates that ravaged China in the 16th century.

Richard von Glahn (University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles is a public research university located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, USA. It was founded in 1919 as the "Southern Branch" of the University of California and is the second oldest of the ten campuses...

 Professor of History and a specialist in Chinese history) commented that a majority of school history texts present Zheng He wrongly; they "offer counterfactual arguments", and "emphasize China's missed opportunity." The "narrative emphasizes the failure" instead of Zheng He's accomplishments. He goes on to claim that "Zheng He reshaped Asia." According to him, maritime history in the fifteenth century is essentially the Zheng He story and the effects of Zheng He's voyages.

Von Glahn claims that Zheng He's influence lasted beyond his age, may be seen as the tip of an iceberg, and there is much more to the story of maritime trade and other relationships in Asia in the fifteenth century and beyond.

State-sponsored Ming naval efforts declined dramatically after Zheng's voyages. Starting in the early 15th century, China experienced increasing pressure from resurgent Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

n tribes from the north. In recognition of this threat and possibly to move closer to his family's historical geographic power base, in 1421 the emperor Yongle moved the capital north from Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 to present-day Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

. From the new capital he could apply greater imperial supervision to the effort to defend the northern borders. At considerable expense, China launched annual military expeditions from Beijing to weaken the Mongolians. The expenditures necessary for these land campaigns directly competed with the funds necessary to continue naval expeditions.

In 1449 Mongolian cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 ambushed a land expedition personally led by the emperor Zhengtong less than a day's march from the walls of the capital. In the Battle of Tumu Fortress the Mongolians wiped out the Chinese army and captured the emperor. This battle had two salient effects. First, it demonstrated the clear threat posed by the northern nomads. Second, the Mongols caused a political crisis in China when they released Zhengtong after his half-brother had proclaimed himself the new Jingtai
Jingtai
Jingtai may refer to:*Jingtai County , Gansu, China*Jingtai Emperor , Chinese emperor of the Ming Dynasty*Jingtai Expressway , projected expressway which will, when completed, connect Beijing with Taipei...

 emperor. Not until 1457 did political stability return when Zhengtong recovered the throne. Upon his return to power China abandoned the strategy of annual land expeditions and instead embarked upon a massive and expensive expansion of the Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

. In this environment, funding for naval expeditions simply did not happen.

Cultural Influence

In the decades after the last voyage, Imperial officials sought to eliminate memories of the voyages. However, the adventures of the fleet captured the imagination of the Chinese, and novelizations of the voyages flourished. An author from far inland Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

 would in 1597 write the grandest of the epics, Romance of the Three-Jeweled Eunuch, the distance from the coast and time gap since the last voyage attest to continued cultural power.

In modern times, he is the continued subject of interest and a cultural reference. In Vernor Vinge
Vernor Vinge
Vernor Steffen Vinge is a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author. He is best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels and novellas A Fire Upon the Deep , A Deepness in the Sky , Rainbows End , Fast Times at Fairmont High ...

's science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 novel A Deepness in the Sky
A Deepness in the Sky
A Deepness in the Sky is a Hugo Award–winning science fiction novel by Vernor Vinge. Published in 1999, the novel is a loose prequel to his earlier novel A Fire Upon the Deep...

published in 1999, Qeng Ho, named after Zheng He, is the commercial traders in the human galactical system. The expeditions of Zheng He were featured in the 2005 novel "The Map Thief" by Heather Terrell
Heather Terrell
Heather Benedict Terrell is an American novelist and lawyer.Terrell is a graduate of Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh, Boston College, and Boston University School of Law. For ten years she was a litigator in New York City for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Morrison & Foerster...

. In 2009, China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

's CCTV
China Central Television
China Central Television or Chinese Central Television, commonly abbreviated as CCTV, is the major state television broadcaster in mainland China. CCTV has a network of 19 channels broadcasting different programmes and is accessible to more than one billion viewers...

 released Zheng He Xia Xiyang
Zheng He Xia Xiyang
Zheng He Xia Xiyang is a 2009 Chinese television series based on the voyages of Admiral Zheng He, the Hui Chinese explorer who led seven expeditions to Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Africa during the 15th century.-Cast:*Gallen Lo as Zheng He...

, a television series specially produced in 2005 to mark the 600th anniversary of Zheng He's voyages. Gallen Lo
Gallen Lo
Gallen Lo Ka-leung is a Hong Kong actor and singer who primarily acts in television series. He is sometimes credited as King Gallen or Law Ka-leung.-Career:...

 starred as Zheng He.

Relics

Nanjing Tianfeigong (南京天妃宫)
Zheng He built Tianfeigong (天妃宫, Tianfei palace) in Nanjing after the fleet returned from its first western voyage in 1407.

Stele of Tongfan Deed (通番事跡碑)
The stele of Tongfan Deed (通番事跡, deed of foreign connection and exchange) is located in the Tianfeigong in Taicang
Taicang
Taicang is a coastal city in Jiangsu Province of People's Republic of China. It is approximately to the northwest of Shanghai, and to the east of Suzhou. It is a county level city under jurisdiction of Suzhou prefecture level city. In 2008, the registered population was at 466,300, and total GDP...

, where they started their journey. It was submerged and disappeared, but has been rebuilt.

Stele of Record of Tianfei Showing Her Presence and Power (天妃靈應之記碑)
In order to thank Tianfei for her blessings, Zheng He and his colleagues rebuilt Tianfeigong in Nanshan, Changle County
Changle County
Changle County is under the administration of Weifang, in Shandong Province. The ancient Kingdom of Beihai was located to the west of present day Changle County....

, Fujian province before their seventh western voyage. They also raised a stele with the inscription Tian Fei Ling Ying Zhi Ji (天妃靈應之記, Record of Tianfei Showing Her Presence and Power), which tells about their voyages.

Zheng He Stele in Sri Lanka
The Galle Trilingual Inscription in Sri Lanka was discovered in the city of Galle
Galle
Galle is a city situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, 119 km from Colombo. Galle is the capital city of Southern Province of Sri Lanka and it lies in Galle District....

 in 1911 and is preserved in the National Museum of Colombo. Three languages were used for the inscription: Chinese, Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 and Persian. The inscription gives praise to Buddha and describes the fleet's donations to a Buddhist temple, the famous Tenavarai Nayanar temple
Tondeswaram temple
Tenavaram temple was a historic Hindu temple complex situated in the port town Tenavaram, Tevanthurai , in Maturai near Galle, Southern Province, Sri Lanka. Its primary deity was a Hindu god Tenavarai Nayanar and at its zenith was one of the most...

 of Tondeswaram.

Tomb and museum

Zheng He's tomb in Nanjing has been repaired and a small museum has been built next to it, although his body is missing as he was buried at sea off the Malabar Coast
Malabar Coast
The Malabar Coast is a long and narrow coastline on the south-western shore line of the mainland Indian subcontinent. Geographically, it comprises the wettest regions of southern India, as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains, especially on their westward-facing mountain...

 near Calicut in Western India. However, his sword and other personal possessions were interred in the typical Muslim tomb inscribed with Arabic characters.

Zheng He's assistant Hong Bao's tomb was unearthed recently in Nanjing.

Maritime Day

In the People's Republic of China, 11 July is Maritime Day
China National Maritime Day
Maritime Day in China is celebrated July 11, 2005, commemorating marked Zheng He's first voyage. The date marks the 600th anniversary of the ocean voyages of Zheng He, the Ming Dynasty navigator, who went on seven voyages to show China's might to the rest of the world, under the command of...

 (中国航海日) and is devoted to the memory of Zheng He's first voyage.

See also

  • Ming Dynasty
    Ming Dynasty
    The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

  • Chinese exploration
    Chinese exploration
    Chinese exploration includes exploratory Chinese travels abroad, on land and by sea, from the 2nd century BC until the 15th century.-Pamir Mountains and beyond:...

  • Hui people
    Hui people
    The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

  • Ma Huan
  • Fei Xin
    Fei Xin
    Fei Xin was a member of the military personnel of the fleet of the Ming dynasty admiral Zheng He, known as the author of a book about the countries visited by Chinese ships.-Biography:...

  • Chang Yuchun
    Chang Yuchun
    Chang Yuchun , style name Boren and pseudonym Yanheng , was a Chinese Muslim military general. He was a follower of the Ming Dynasty's founder, Zhu Yuanzhang, and contributed greatly to the founding of the dynasty...

  • Hong Bao
    Hong Bao
    Hong Bao was a Chinese eunuch sent on overseas diplomatic missions during the reign of Ming emperors Yongle and Xuande. He is best known as the commander of one of the detached squadrons of Zheng He's fleet during the Seventh Voyage of this fleet to the Indian Ocean .-Early career:According to the...

  • Ming Shi-lu
    Ming Shi-lu
    The Ming Shilu , or the Veritable Records of the Ming, contains the imperial annals of Ming dynasty emperors and is the single largest historical source for the dynasty and "plays an extremely important role in the historical reconstruction of Ming society and politics." After the fall of the Ming...

  • Zhou Man
    Zhou Man
    Zhou Man , was a 15th century Chinese admiral and explorer. He was born into a wealthy merchant family in the year 1378 AD; when he was six years old, his father died on an overseas voyage to Korea. Mourning his father's death, he left his mother and his four younger siblings behind. He worked his...


External links

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