Who was Zheng He (1371-1433)?
1.He was a eunuch,a Muslim and Chinese, who is a famous maritime explorer.
2.Zheng He was born in Yunnan Province in southwestern China and his original name was Ma Sanbao. Zheng He was a Hui,the Han tribe that is Muslim.
3.Little is known about his childhood. We know that he was the son of a chief of Yunnan province in the time of the Yuan-Mongol dynasty (1271-1368), until it was invaded by the army of the Emperor of China of the new dynasty, the Ming (1368-1644).His father was killed and he was captured, castrated at age 13, as was customary to do for the sons of rival warlord prisoners, who were destined to be eunuchs in the Imperial Court.
4.The eunuchs had a lot of power because of their relationship with the emperor.Zheng He became a favorite of Yongle (1360-1424), the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty,and it was then that his name was changed to Zheng He.
1.He came to power by usurpation,killing tens of thousands.
2.He moved the capital from Nanking to Peking.
3.He created the Forbidden City in Peking.
Zheng He made seven voyages from 1405 to 1433
He was also made admiral of the imperial fleet,even though he had no sea experience.The Emperor began the construction of hundreds of ships in Nanking and ordered exploratory expeditions across the Indian Ocean.Yongle’s successor, Hongxi, did not support these expeditions and Zheng He had to cancel the next expedition.However Hongxi’s reign was short-lived and Xuande, the new emperor, ordered a seventh expedition, the most important one of all and one that went the farthest.The Chinese fleet had 300 ships with 30,000 men, a huge fleet.
During one of these expeditions Zheng He returned to China with a giraffe(1414).The giraffe was at once declared to be a qilin.
What is a qilin?
The qilin / kirin is a fabulous animal in Chinese mythology with multiple appearances. It generally looks like a deer or a horse, can have scales or not and a pair of horns or only one.It resides only in quiet places or in the vicinity of a sage,and is an animal of good luck.
The seven voyages of Zheng He
Zheng He explored what is Java and Sumatra in present day Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka.He also went up the Red Sea to Egypt and down the African coast to Mozambique.As a result of one of these expeditions in 1414, the Sultan of Malindi (in present-day Kenya) opened diplomatic relations with China.
1st trip: 1405-1407
2nd trip: 1407-1409
3rd trip: 1409-1411
4th trip: 1413-1415
5th trip: 1416-1419
6th trip: 1421-1422
7th trip: 1430-1433Chinese ship at time of Zheng He
Did the fleet of Zheng He travel around the world?
In 2002 Gavin Menzies,of the UK, published the book “1421, the Year China discovered the World” where he says:
1.That part of the fleet rounded southern Africa and sailed through the Atlantic reaching the West Indies.
2.And that another fleet crossed the Strait of Magellan and explored the west coast of America.
3.A third fleet went to the cold waters of Antarctica. Australia was also reached during these explorations.
The evidence is against the claims of Menzies
Here is a link to several articles against his ideas:
Here are more articles on the same theme
Watch this Documentary critical of Gavin Menzies’ Ideas