I. EARLY CHINESE VOYAGES OF DISCOVERY
Between 1421 and 1423 the Chinese mounted the largest fleet the world had ever seen which reached the far corners of the earth. The fleet discovered and charted the New World seventy years before Christopher Columbus and circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. The revelation of these achievements has challenged our notions of voyages of discovery and means that our knowledge of history has to be revised. https://twupro.com/
II. THE PIZZIGANO CHART
In the early 1990’s Gavin Menzies, a former British navy captain, discovered an unusual chart that was drafted in 1424 by a Venetian cartographer named Zuane Pizzigano. The chart showed a group of four islands in the Caribbean – Satanazes, Antilia, Saya and Ymana that did not appear in other map and marked places where no European had visited before such as Patagonia, the Andes, Antarctica and the east coast of Africa.
Menzies determined that these explorers were Chinese because only they had the skills in astro-navigation, horticulture and had a huge fleet large enough to mount such an epic voyage. (1)
III. DESTRUCTION OF DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
When the fleet returned home in October 1423, emperor Zhu Di had fallen from the throne and a great storm had destroyed his palace. This was seen as a bad omen and as a result when his son succeeded to the throne he rejected the outside world and destroyed the majority of China’s documents recording China’s previous expansionist policies.
IV. ZHENG HE – THE EUNUCH
In 1402 emperor Zhu Di succeeded to the throne by overthrowing Zhu Yunwen and because he was not his father’s designated heir he sought to prove the legitimacy of his regime in the eyes of the Gods by conceiving a grand plan and for its’ implementation he turned to his bodyguard, admiral Zheng He.
Zheng He was a eunuch. Eunuchs were Mongol boys whom the Chinese castrated by severing their penises and testicles, after defeating the Mongols in the fourteenth century. Then they were conscripted into the army or used as personal servants to the emperor.
The grand plan involved forming an armada to establish an empire, building a new capital city in Beijing and extending the Great Wall of China.
V. THE GRAND PLAN
A. ‘Tribute System’
Zheng He was commandeered to assemble a large armada to sail and chart the oceans of the world bringing foreign rulers and the entire world into China’s ‘tribute system’. (2)
Under that system rulers paid tribute to China in return for trading privileges and protection against enemies. China always gave its’ trading partners a greater value of goods – silks and porcelain at discounted prices, often funded by soft loans – than was received from them. Thus they were in perpetual debt to China.
B. Beijing – The New Imperial City
In 1404 in furtherance of a plan to build a new capital city four and a half million artisans and laborers were employed to work on construction and one million to guard them.
Beijing was to be the intellectual capital of the world with libraries and storage for four thousand encyclopedias, the opinions of 120 philosophers and sages of the Song dynasty together with commentaries of thinkers from the 11th and 13th centuries.
This would be unlike anything else in the rest of the world where printing was unknown and culture and scientific knowledge lagged far behind.
C. The Great Wall of China
This had been built between 221 and 206 BC to protect the northern frontiers from attack and the new wall was to run 6,400 kilometers west from the Pacific to the Heavenly Mountains in central Asia.
VI. THE ARMADA
The Chinese had the most powerful navy in the world. Their treasure ships were ocean-going monsters built of teak, the rudders stood 36 feet high and they could carry more than 2000 tons of cargo. The galleys were protected by archers and were armed with gunpowder weapons, cannons, mortars flaming arrows and exploding shells.
The armada was organized like a modern convoy with the flagships at the center surrounded by junks, 90 feet long and 30 feet wide and an outer ring of warships.
The ships could remain at sea for over three months and cover 4500 miles because accompanying them were water tankers and grain ships with chickens, dogs, pigs and other animals for food and horses for the cavalry.
Trading ships from other nations would join in and the altogether there were more than 800 ships and crews large enough to fill a city.
Unlike European voyages which were aimed at finding treasure Chinese voyages
were scientific expeditions and included various professionals like interpreters, navigators, engineers and physicians to search for healing plants.
VII. MENZIES’ METHODOLOGY
In order to support his thesis that Zheng He had discovered the New World Gavin Menzies had to follow the route the Chinese ships had taken but also to find traces of their presence in places along those routes.
Some thirty-four lines of evidence had survived the destruction of the records and he was also helped by his experience as a navigator in the navy and by Chinese historian, Ma Huan, who documented the first part of the voyage in his diaries. (3)
VIII. THE GREAT VOYAGE
A. Chinese Astronomy
The armada set sail on March 8, 1421 and the hull shape of the ships meant that they had to sail before the wind.
In Chinese astronomy latitude was determined not by the distance north of the equator but by the distance from the North Pole which was determined by the altitude of Polaris, a bright star above the North Pole (i.e. its’ height above the horizon).
By sailing due south and keeping Polaris dead astern, the fleet could measure the star’s altitude with their sextants and thereafter every twenty-four hours to determine the change of latitude (i.e. its distance south of the North Pole).
Polaris was not visible in the southern hemisphere and therefore could not determine latitude south of the equator.
B. Da Conti and Fra Mauro
According to Ma Huan the armada sailed towards the Indian Ocean where it was divided into four fleets – three under the command of Hong Bao, Zhou Man and Zhou Wen. Zheng He commanded the fourth which sailed to south-east Asia before returning home in November 1421.
The fleet then sailed to Calicut in India and then up the west coast of Africa to the Cape Verde islands.
In a report of his journey to the Papacy a Venetian trader named Niccolo da Conti (c. 1395 – 1469) described the presence of Chinese warships in Calicut at the time of his visit. Also, a map of southern Africa dated 1459 and drawn by a Venetian cartographer Fra Mauro, included a drawing of Zheng He’s junks.
Both men claimed that a Chinese junk had sailed round the Cape of Good Hope and into the south Atlantic and this was confirmed by a Chinese chart dat 1420 called the Kangnido map which accurately depicted the coasts of Africa and must have been drawn by someone who sailed round the Cape.
Furthermore the Chinese had a practice of leaving carved stones as monuments to their achievements when they stopped at places on their voyages. Examples of stones found were the Matadi Falls in the Congo, a free standing one in Janela in Africa and another in Dondra Head in Sri Lanka.
After leaving the Cape Verde islands the fleet separated so admiral Zhou Wen went north with the current through the Caribbean to North America while admirals Hong Bao and Zhou Man took the current due south towards South America.
C. The Piri Reis Map
This map of South America drafted by an Ottoman admiral named Piri Reis in 1428 confirms that the fleet went to the Orinoco Delta and the Amazon. DNA of American Indian peoples in the Amazon, Brazil and Venezuela showed that they had diseases unique to China.
The winds then carried the fleet to Patagonia in south Argentina. A variety of birds and animals had been taken to and from the Americas. The Piri Reis map depicted a deer in Patagonia, a guanaco (type of camel) and a mountain lion which are native to South America. A native man and a dog-headed man or mylodon were found in the Chinese book called The Illustrated Record of Strange Countries 1430 which depicted animals found by the Chinese on their travels.
The Europeans also found when they arrived rice fields – a crop foreign to the Americas- in Mexico and Brazil, cotton unique to North America in the Cape Verde islands and coconuts from the South Pacific in Puerto Rico. Bananas, tobacco, sweet potatoes and maize from the Amazon were also exported to south-east Asia.
IX. THE VOYAGE OF HONG BAO
His mission was to chart the world east of the Falkland Islands. The current pushed the fleet into a narrow strait which is famously known as ‘The Strait of Magellan’ because it is a sea route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Then the fleet sailed to Antarctica as far south as the South Pole. A sailor from Bologna named Ludovico de Varthema in 1506 claimed that two Chinese sailors told him that the Chinese had sailed by the Southern Cross to regions that were very cold and had sunlight for only four hours a day which they could only have known by sailing there themselves. In addition the Piri Reis map showed ice running due south of the Strait of Magellan and must have been drawn by someone who sailed alongside it.
The fleet then got underneath the Canopus, a giant star directly above the South
Getting underneath Canopus and knowing the circumference of the earth enabled the fleet to calculate the position of the South Pole. By cross- referencing Canopus to Polaris they could then use that star to obtain latitude anywhere in the southern hemisphere.
B.Australia – West Coast
Hong Bao’s fleet was carried by the current to the west coast of Australia via the island of Kerguelen as identified in the Dictionary of Ming Biography of Records and on the Chinese chart the Wu Pei Chi 1422.
The junk dispatched to chart the area got wrecked and in 1836 three hunters found the wreck of a ship built of mahogany which Europeans did not use to build ships and twenty years later was identified by an Australian Mrs. Manifold as the missing ship.
The Aboriginal Yangery tribe which live near the wreck-site have a distinctive color and facial features and claim that ‘yellow men’ settled among them who must have been from the wreck.
X. THE VOYAGE OF ZHOU MAN
Zhou Man’s fleet got swept northward up the coast of Chile until they reached Peru. There they exchanged tributes with the indigenous Incas which are found in a novel about Zheng He’s voyages in 1597 called His-Yang-Chi-(Xi Yang Ji) all of which could be found in northern Peru including llamas, cachalots (small whales) and Asiatic hens.
After leaving Peru, the fleet split into two parts. The northern squadron sailed to the Carolinas, New Guinea and the Philippines.
Evidence of their presence in the Americas were observation platforms in the Carolinas, like those in China; Chinese hens in Peru and maize and tools used to grind it, indigenous to the Americas, were found in the Philippines.
The southern squadron was carried by the current to the east coast of Australia.
A. Australia – East Coast
In the imperial zoo in Beijing there is the figure of a Kangaroo which is unique to Australia and in the 1840’s a ruined fortress was found in New South Wales formed with large stones and mortar with a large tree growing under the stones. Such fortifications were not built by the Aborigines and given the age of the tree must have been built before the British arrived.
Also found were rock carvings depicting a Chinese junk with people in long robes
Indicating the presence of Chinese.
A shipwreck was found near Byron Bay in New South Wales and in 1965 sand-miners found a huge rudder, 40 feet high which must have been Chinese since only they built ships with such large rudders.
The similarities of another wreckage near Wollongong near Sydney and two more in Perth proves the presence of the Chinese in east Australia in the 15th century.
New Zealand – The current pushed the fleet to the South Island of New Zealand where the wreck of an old wooden ship was found on the southern tip and in 1831 Sydney seamen saw mylodons and sea otters which are not indigenous to New Zealand and must have escaped the wreck.
On the North Island a huge carved stone was found with concentric circles similar to the ones the Chinese left behind in Dondra Head, Janela and by the Matadi Falls in the Congo Delta.
A celebrated bell similar to Zheng He’s bell cast after the sixth voyage was found near a ship wreck on Ruapuke beach, an oriental figurine was found near Auckland and the Maoris near Ruapuke had a legend that ‘Patupaiarche’ or pale-skinned Chinese settlers had married Maori women proving the Chinese had reached New Zealand.
Brisbane, Australia – The fleet made a second landfall in Australia, north of Brisbane. There their engineers went ashore on horses and gathered gold and other precious minerals and built pyramids in Gympie obviously to mark the location of the precious riches.
As recent as October 5, 2002 historian Brett Green unearthed the wreck of a large Chinese ship off Queensland proving that Captain Cook did not discover Australia.
After Australia they visited the Spice Islands and the Philippines where they exchanged silks and porcelain for spices, large enough to fill the imperial warehouse in Beijing.