39 Facts About Zheng He


Zheng He was a Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat, fleet admiral, and court eunuch during China's early Ming dynasty.

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Zheng He was originally born as Ma Zheng He in a Muslim family and later adopted the surname Zheng conferred by the Yongle Emperor.

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Zheng He was born Ma He to a Muslim family of Kunyang, Kunming, Yunnan, during the Ming dynasty of China.

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Zheng He was a great-great-great-grandson of Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar, who served in the administration of the Mongol Empire and was the governor of Yunnan during the early Yuan dynasty.

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Zheng He's grandfather carried the title hajji, and his father had the sinicized surname Ma and the title hajji, which suggests that they had made the pilgrimage to Mecca.

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In 1381, Ma Hajji, Zheng He's father, died in the fighting between the Ming armies and Mongol forces.

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Dreyer states that Zheng He's father died at 39 while he resisted the Ming conquest, while Levathes states that Zheng He's father died at 37, but it is unclear if he was helping the Mongol Army or was just caught in the onslaught of battle.

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Zheng He was castrated at some point between the age of 10 and 14, and was placed in the service of the Prince of Yan.

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Zheng He often participated in Zhu Di's military campaigns against the Mongols.

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Zheng He would be one of his commanders during that campaign.

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In 1424, Zheng He traveled to Palembang in Sumatra to confer an official seal and letter of appointment upon Shi Jisun, who was placed in the office of Pacification Commissioner.

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When Zheng He returned from Palembang, he found that the Yongle Emperor had died during his absence.

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In 1431, Zheng He was bestowed with the title Sanbao Taijian, using his informal name Sanbao and the title of Grand Director.

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Zheng He was placed as the admiral in control of the huge fleet and armed forces that undertook the expeditions.

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Zheng He's fleets visited Brunei, Java, Siam, Southeast Asia, India, the Horn of Africa, and Arabia, dispensing and receiving goods along the way.

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Zheng He presented gifts of gold, silver, porcelain, and silk, and in return, China received such novelties as ostriches, zebras, camels, and ivory from the Swahili Coast.

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Zheng He's fleet followed long-established, well-mapped routes of trade between China and the Arabian Peninsula that had been used since at least the Han dynasty.

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Zheng He generally sought to attain his goals through diplomacy, and his large army awed most would-be enemies into submission.

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However, a contemporary reported that Zheng He "walked like a tiger" and did not shrink from violence when he considered it necessary to impress foreign peoples with China's military might.

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Zheng He ruthlessly suppressed pirates, who had long plagued Chinese and Southeast Asian waters.

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Zheng He waged a land war against the Kingdom of Kotte on Ceylon, and he made displays of military force when local officials threatened his fleet in Arabia and East Africa.

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Zheng He led seven expeditions to the "Western" or Indian Ocean.

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Zheng He brought back to China many trophies and envoys from more than thirty kingdoms, including King Vira Alakeshwara of Ceylon, who came to China as a captive to apologize to the Emperor for offenses against his mission.

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Zheng He's sailing charts, the Mao Kun map, were published in a book entitled the Wubei Zhi written in 1621 and published in 1628 but traced back to Zheng He's and earlier voyages.

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Traditional and popular accounts of Zheng He's voyages have described a great fleet of gigantic ships far larger than any other wooden ships in history.

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The Treasure Shipyard, where Zheng He's fleet were believed to have been built in the Ming Dynasty, once consisted of thirteen basins, most of which have now been covered by the construction of buildings in the 20th century.

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One theory is that Admiral Zheng He died in 1433, during or shortly after the seventh voyage.

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Zheng He's came with 500 high-ranking young men and a few hundred handmaidens as her entourage.

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In 1961, the Indonesian Islamic leader and scholar Hamka credited Zheng He for playing an important role in the development of Islam in Indonesia.

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The Brunei Times credits Zheng He with building Chinese Muslim communities in Palembang and along the shores of Java, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines.

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Neglect of the imperial navy and Nanjing dockyards after Zheng He's voyages left the coast highly vulnerable to Japanese wokou during the 16th century.

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In contrast, Glahn asserts that "Zheng He reshaped Asia" because maritime history in the 15th century was essentially the Zheng He story and the effects of his voyages.

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Zheng He played an important part in developing relations between China and Islamic countries.

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Zheng He visited Muslim shrines of Islamic holy men in the Fujian.

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Zheng He is mentioned in part of the main storyline of the first-person shooter game Far Cry 3.

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In Civilization VI, Zheng He is a 'great admiral' unit that grants bonuses to trade and naval combat.

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Zheng He built the Tianfei Palace, a temple in honor of the goddess Mazu, in Nanjing after the fleet returned from its first western voyage in 1407.

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Zheng He is the namesake of the ROCS Cheng Ho missile frigate in Taiwan.

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People's Liberation Army Navy ship Zheng He is a Chinese training ship named for him.

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