The Eunuch Who Beat Columbus by Almost 90 Years

October 4, 2016

The New York Times reported, “The Chinese map, which was drawn in 1763 but has a note on it saying it is a reproduction of a map dated 1418, presents the world as a globe with all the major continents rendered with an exactitude that European maps did not have for at least another century, after Columbus, Da Gama, Magellan, Dias and others had completed their renowned explorations.”

The voyages of Chinese Admiral Zheng He’s armada were rediscovered in Fujian province in the 1930s. The story was etched in a pillar. By the final, seventh voyage, the fleet had covered over 50,000 kilometers or 30,000 miles and was comprised of three hundred ships and 28,000 men.

But when the Yongle Emperor died in 1424, China’s Hongxi Emperor stopped the voyages of China’s largest fleet. – BBC

A century later, about 1529, another Ming Emperor burned all records of the fleet. This decision to withdraw from the world may have resulted in China not being ready to confront the Western Imperial powers that arrived in the 19th century starting the Opium Wars that devastated China leading to a century of war and unrest.

For a comparison, Christopher Columbus set sale in 1492 with 3 small ships and 88 men. Erik the Red, a Viking explorer, also crossed the Atlantic in even smaller ships to build a settlement in Greenland around 1,000 AD. Some archeologists suggest that the Phoenicians may have reached the Americas before the Vikings and Columbus around 500 BC. Some even say as early as 1500 to 1200 BC.

Columbia.edu says, “From 1405 until 1433, the Chinese imperial eunuch Zheng He led seven ocean expeditions for the Ming emperor that are unmatched in world history.” To learn more about the seven voyages, click the link in this paragraph.

In fact, many layers of myth surround China’s ancient mariner. According to Kenyan lore, some of his shipwrecked sailors survived and married local women in Africa. DNA tests have reportedly shown evidence of Chinese ancestry and a young Kenyan woman, Mwamaka Shirafu, was given a scholarship to study Chinese medicine in China.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review Updated August 26 - 2016_edited-2

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Zheng He’s 15th Century Chinese Armada

September 17, 2014

When the Yongle Emperor died in 1424, China’s Hongxi Emperor stopped the voyages of China’s largest fleet. Source: BBC

A century later, about 1529, another Ming Emperor burned all records of the fleet. This decision to withdraw from the world may have resulted in China not being ready to confront the Western Imperial powers that would arrive in the 19th century starting the Opium Wars, which would devastate China.

The voyages of Chinese Admiral Zheng He’s armada were rediscovered in Fujian province in the 1930s. The story was etched in a pillar. By the final, seventh voyage, the fleet had covered over 50,000 kilometers or 30,000 miles and was comprised of three hundred ships and 28,000 men.

By comparison, Christopher Columbus set sale in 1492 with 3 small ships and 88 men. Erik the Red, a Viking explorer, also crossed the Atlantic in even smaller ships to build a settlement in Greenland around 1,000 AD. Some archeologists suggest that the Phoenicians may have reached the Americas before the Vikings and Columbus around 500 BC. Some even say as early as 1500 to 1200 BC.

A joint Chinese-Kenyan expedition of archaeologists continues to search for a ship from Zheng He’s fleet, which may have sunk during a storm near the Lamu islands. ( Old Salt Blog )

Many layers of myth surround China’s ancient mariner. According to Kenyan lore, some of his shipwrecked sailors survived and married local women.

DNA tests have reportedly shown evidence of Chinese ancestry and a young Kenyan woman, Mwamaka Shirafu, was given a scholarship to study Chinese medicine in China, where she now lives.

In addition, National Geographic.com reports on the discovery of an ancient burial site found in Kenya’s Lamu archipelago: “These burial places, with their half-moon domes and terraced entries, were virtually identical to the classic Ming tombs that dot hillsides above Chinese ports from which shipwrecked Treasure Fleet sailors might have hailed.”


Another invention from ancient China still used in modern ships today.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

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Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty – Part 3/4

November 27, 2010

The Yongle Emperor’s father, Zhu Yuanzhang (Emperor Hongwu) would have seen his son as unfilial, which means not observing the obligations of a child to a parent—even after the parent is dead.

When Yongle opened China, he demonstrated disrespect for his parent. Instead, he should have continued supporting the closed-door policy his father had instituted.

In Chinese society, to maintain a well-controlled country or a peaceful world requires the children to love and respect his or her parents even after death.

In fact, filial piety is not only a foundation of morality in China but also a fundamental basis of Chinese culture.

This also explains why each of China’s current presidents continues supporting the policies of the former president and Deng Xiaoping.

For change to take place in China, it usually comes slowly. Filial piety is the reason the People’s Liberation Army did not remove Mao during the Cultural Revolution and waited until he was dead to act.


Mandarin with English subtitles

However, when the Yongle Emperor acted against his father’s wishes, he demonstrated courage because he knew many in the imperial court would consider him unfilial.

Emperor Yongle commissioned building the great fleet that Admiral Zheng He sailed as far as Africa. 

Admiral Zheng He was selected to command because he was an organizer, a diplomat and could be trusted. He was not a merchant or a conqueror.

Although during this time, many Chinese immigrated to Southeast Asia, the Yongle Emperor had no interest in establishing colonies outside China.

In the north, it was a different story. Emperor Yongle had to deal with ceaseless attacks by the Mongolian tribes.

For the first time in centuries, an emperor sent a Chinese army of 100,000 beyond the Great Wall to end this threat and bring peace to China.

When the nomadic tribes retreated, a larger army was raised and sent after them.

Return to Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Ming Dynasty (1368-1643 AD) – Part 2, 1/3

November 23, 2010

During the Ming Dynasty, great achievements were recorded in architecture, shipbuilding, porcelain making, and textile weaving.

Chinese products became known around the world for high quality and craftsmanship.

Admiral Zheng He took more than 10,000 copies of books to give away in the hope of spreading Chinese civilization and traditional Confucian ideas.

However, it was the silk and brocade that was most welcomed during the voyages of the great fleet.

Most of the Chinese silk that Zheng He took on his voyages came from southern China.

 

Of all the textile industries, silk weaving was number one and could be found in almost every large and small town in the south.

Shang Chuan, a Research Fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences says, “Textiles in China have a long history. By the Ming Dynasty… large workshops had appeared, although work was still done by hand.

“However, compared with the old family production model, large worships were superior as the products were quality guaranteed, all looked the same and were the same standard.”

The silk industry was the beginning of modern manufacturing. In fact, silk weaving had matured two thousand years before the Ming Dynasty during the Warring States Period and was widely traded with the known world during the Han Dynasty

It has been discovered that eighty years before British discovered what caused scurvy — a lack of vitamin C — Chinese sailors were not suffering from scurvy because the Chinese had developed porcelain containers to grow bean sprouts in while at sea.  Bean sprouts are a rich source of vitamin C.

Return to Ming Dynasty (1368-1643 AD) – Part 1, 3/3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1643 AD) – Part 1, 1/3

November 21, 2010

The Red Turban Rebellion was started in the middle of the fourteenth century by Chinese peasants against the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty.

The Red Turban ideology included elements from White Lotus, a Buddhist sect from the late Southern Song Dynasty.

Soon, the White Lotus Society, led by Han Shantong, became the center of anti-Mongol sentiment. After Han Shantong was caught and executed, his son, Han Liner, came to power claiming to be the incarnation of the Maitreya Buddha.

When the Yung Dynasty fell in August 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang was the leader of the White Lotus Society (also known as the The Millennium Cult, with similarities to today’s Falun Gong religious cult).

Yuanzhang came from a poor background and did not trust the educated elite. He created an extremely authoritarian regime with harsh policies and ruled China from the city of Nanjing.

It would take several years before China recovered from the destruction caused by the rebellion.

The first hundred and fifty years of the Ming Dynasty saw an improvement in agricultural technology never before seen in China, which encouraged the development of the handicrafts industry and commerce.

Since the Roman Empire, products from China had already been known for their high quality and craftsmanship. During the Ming, these products reached even higher qualities.

The Yongle Emperor (1402 – 1424) moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing where he built a new city.

In fact, after being neglected for decades, the Yongle Emperor had the Grand Canal restored.

The Yongle Emperor also send the Muslim, eunuch Admiral Zheng He with a huge fleet across the oceans to Africa and possibly to the Americas well before Columbus set sail. The emperor’s goal was to gain respect from distant foreign nations.

To build the Ming fleet required techniques and technologies never seen in the world. To achieve this feat, the Chinese invented what has been credited to Ford Motor Company between 1908 and 1915 — an assembly line five centuries before Ford.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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History’s Meaning of the Mandate of Heaven – Part 4/5

October 16, 2010

Marco Polo had no doubt that China was the world’s greatest civilization. He wrote that if the Chinese were war like, they would conquer the world.

He said, “Thank goodness, they are not.”

During the Song Dynasty, the standard of living in China was the highest in the world.

The key concept of Chinese civilization was the search for harmony and during the Song Dynasty this balance was achieved for a few centuries.

Writing was considered a tool that provided access to the ancestors until writing became civilization itself.

 

However, the way China saw the world started to change after Chinese Admiral Zheng He sailed from China with a huge armada in the fifteenth century.

Zheng He’s ships were eventually broken up and the logbooks destroyed.

Western thinkers have a simple explanation that the end of Zheng He’s explorations was proof that the Chinese were backward and ignorant and had no desire for new knowledge.

However, there is another explanation.

After all, at the time, the Chinese were the most advanced technological nation on the globe.

Therefore, perhaps it is a difference of how different civilizations believed technology should be used and the Chinese may have realized that their real interests were in China — not in the world.

In Europe, however, Western philosophers, leaders and writers were not concerned with perfecting the past but how to control the world’s future.

Return to History of the Mandate of Heaven – Part 3

 

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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