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

November 24, 2010

The reputation of the Chinese products that Admiral Zheng He took with him on his voyages brought him considerable honor and made him welcome everywhere he visited.

On his sixth voyage, he reached the African coast and twelve hundred envoys from sixteen African and Asian countries returned to China with Zheng He’s fleet.

In Beijing, the Ming Emperor presented these envoys with 40 thousand roles of silk and brocade.

Even before the Ming Dynasty, China had been sending diplomatic missions overland to the West for centuries and trade had extended as far as east Africa.

However, never before had a government-sponsored mission the size of Zheng He’s fleet been organized.  His voyages were a vivid demonstration of the economic and cultural prosperity of the Ming Dynasty.

 

In 1420, the year the Forbidden City was completed, the Yongle Emperor’s Bell was successfully cast. 

The Forbidden City is a testament to Chinese architecture and engineering while in Europe it was still the Middle Ages.

The Great Wall, which the Ming Dynasty had continued to build and strengthen, stretched from China’s eastern coast to the far northwest.

In 1637, the largest encyclopedia of ancient China was published — a comprehensive book covering science and handicraft technologies.

Another encyclopedia was published on agriculture.

A third described China’s geology in detail.

A fourth was the most comprehensive medical book in Chinese history, the Compendium of Materia Medica.

The greatest of China’s ancient literature was also written and published during the Ming Dynasty.

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

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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, 3/3

November 22, 2010

After moving the capital from Nanjing to Beijing, the Yongle Emperor ordered that a huge bell be made to commemorate his exploits.

The reason for moving the capital was to consolidate defenses in the north since the Mongols, Manchu and other nomads lived to the north and were a threat to an agricultural culture such as China.

In March of 1418, the master bell makers were called to Beijing. The Yongle Bell was to be 6.94 meters tall (almost 23 feet), 3.3 meters wide at the mouth (almost 11 feet) and weigh 46.5 tons.

Producing such a massive bell even today would be an extraordinary job. The master bell makers used the clay mould casting technique—a method used for three thousand years so the Chinese were experienced.

Since there wasn’t a furnace large enough to melt that much bronze, the bell makers used several furnaces at once — another example of an assembly line.

The bell was poured in one casting, which meant that the furnaces had to be coordinated to poor the molten bronze. To be successful, there could not be one mistake.

Because of the threats to China from northern nomads, the five thousand kilometer long Great Wall had been built as a first line of defense from invasion.

The Great Wall was high, long and solid since it was constructed of massive slabs of stone. Construction had started two thousand years earlier and work had continued up to the Ming Dynasty.

During the twenty-eight years between 1405 and 1433 AD, the fleet commanded by Zheng He made seven voyages to Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and Africa’s east coast.

Ming navigators kept detailed charts and the fleet was never lost while at sea.

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

______________

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.