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CrazyFruits » WELCOME TO CRAZY FRUITS BOOK CLUB » Admiral Zheng He: One Of China’s Greatest adventurer

Admiral Zheng He: One Of China’s Greatest adventurer

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BOBmarleyADMIN

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Zheng He (1371-1435), or Cheng Ho, is China's most famous navigator. He built a total of 1622 ships and made at least seven major excursions between 1405 AD and 1430 AD. He traveled more than 50,000km and visited over 30 countries, reaching Somalia and probably Europe (France, Holland and Portugal).

Zheng He constructed many wooden ships, some of which are the largest in the history, in Nanjing. Three of the shipyards still exist today.
In each trip, he led a troop of 27,800 people on more than 300 ships. In each trip, 62 major ships of this fleet were employed, each over 400 ft long and 193 ft wide, holding 1000 people per ship.

In the 1930s, a stone pillar was discovered in a town in Fujian province. It held an inscription that described the amazing voyages of Zheng He.
Zheng He described how the emperor of the Ming Dynasty had ordered him to sail to "the countries beyond the horizon," all the way to the end of the earth." His mission was to display the strength of his cultural upbringing.
The pillar contains the Chinese names for the countries Zheng He visited. He wrote:

We have...beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising sky-high, 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 rapid like that of a star, transversing the savage waves as if we were treading a public thoroughfare.

The countries and territories covered and recorded in the official Ming history includes Java, Sumatra, Vietnam, Siam, Cambodia, Philippines, Ceylon, Bangladesh, India, Yemen, Arabia, Somalia, Mogadishu. As a clear demonstration of his travel to Africa, among the souvenirs he brought back to China were the giraffes and lions, indigenous animals of Africa.

The official history also mentioned "Franca" (which was the territory to describe today's France and Portugal) and Holland. The Hollanders were described as tall people with red hair and beard, long nose, and deep eye sockets. If he did meet with the Europeans in their native countries, then the only way would be to navigate around the Cape of Good Hope before the Suez Canal was a throughway.

Unfortunately, Zheng He's magnificent accomplishment was later targeted by other courtiers as wasteful. Most of his records were destroyed and building of ships with more than three masts were considered crimes punishable by death. So, a large part of his excursion (which might include the America part) has no reports.
In Africa near Kenya today, there are tribes that are clearly Asian-looking. They also consider themselves as the descendants of Zheng He's crew.

His achievements show that China had the ships and navigational skills to explore the world. Mysteriously, China did not follow up on these voyages. The Chinese destroyed their ocean going ships and halted further expeditions

China has a very old seafaring tradition. Chinese ships had sailed to India as early as the Han Dynasty. Chinese sailors had an important invention to help them-the compass. The compass, or "south pointing spoon," started out as a fortune-telling instrument used like an Ouija board. By the Song era, sailors had taken it up. As a foreign ship captain wrote, "In dark, weather they look to the south pointing needle, and use a sounding line to determine the smell and nature of the mud on the sea bottom, and so know where they are.

Chinese shipbuilders also developed fore-and-aft sails, the sternpost rudder, and boats with paddlewheels. Watertight compartments below decks kept the ship from sinking. Some boats were armor plated for protection. All these developments made long distance navigation possible.

After the Mongols were overthrown in 1368, the emperor of the new Ming Dynasty wanted to assert Chinese power. Because China was no longer part of a land empire that stretched from Asia to Europe, the emperor turned to the sea. He decided to build a navy. The Chinese made elaborate plans that would not be fulfilled for many years.

A shipyard was built at the new capital of Najing (Nanking). Thousand of varnish and tung trees were planted on nearby Purple Mountain to provide wood for shipbuilding. The emperor established a school of foreign languages to train interpreters. While all this was going on, the man who would lead the navy was still an infant.


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