Voyages 06-17-2005 10:12

The Kangnido map (1402) predates Zheng He's voyages, and suggests that he had quite detailed geographical information on the totality of the Old World, from Europe and Africa in the west, to Korea and Japan in the east. "The Western Ocean" refers to the Asian and African places Zheng He explored, including:

Southeast Asia, Sumatra, Java, Ceylon, India, Persia, the Persian Gulf, Arabia, the Red Sea as far north as Egypt, and Africa as far south as the Mozambique Channel and Taiwan seven times. The number of his voyages varies depending on method of division, but he traveled at least seven times to "The Western Ocean" with his fleet. He brought back to China many trophies and envoys from more than thirty kingdoms -- including King Alagonakkara of Ceylon, who came to China to apologize to the Emperor.

There are speculations that some of Zheng He's ships may have traveled beyond the Cape of Good Hope. In particular, the Venetian monk and cartographer Fra Mauro describes in his 1457 Fra Mauro map the travels of a huge "junk from India" 2,000 miles into the Atlantic Ocean in 1420.

Zheng He himself wrote of his travels:

"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" (Tablet erected by Zhen He, Changle, Fujian, 1432. Louise Levanthes)

Editor:Hu Hang

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