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... be wonderful if they have found the remains of The Santa Maria ... it could be considered one of the most important made made vehicles of all time
 

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According to the BBC website

"It was the largest ship in the expedition, about 117ft (36m) long"

Could you imagine sailing into the unknown on something so small and fragile
 

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According to the BBC website

"It was the largest ship in the expedition, about 117ft (36m) long"

Could you imagine sailing into the unknown on something so small and fragile
Interesting stuff. But can you imagine the size of the Viking longboats that colonised Labrador some 300 years previous. Saw a programme the other week where a German professor seems to have provided evidence to support his theory that Carthaginian survivors from the Punic Wars sailed to South America and finally settled in Peru. The greatest ocean voyages in this part of the world were the migrations across the Pacific and the Maoris settling New Zealand. The Spanish voyages are just part of a pantheon of great human achievements. All our ancestors had incredible courage.
 

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how many are aware of this guys accomplishments? he predated columbus by almost 100 years.

The objectives or motivation of Zheng He’s voyages can be divided into two phases: the first three voyages, and the next fourth to seventh voyages. For the first phase, the aim is to stabilize the emperor’s status as well as show off China’s richness and military strength. For the latter phase, the objective was set to establish a friendly international relationship with other countries, and meanwhile to put emphasis on tribute trade. It is believed that to search for Kirin (we call it giraffe) was as well a purpose in the latter phase, because it was the symbol of power and auspice in ancient China (Qian 2005). Another argument is that pilgrimage was also one of the major motivations of the expedition (Ma 2002).

In 1402-1424, during the reign of Emperor Zhu Di, the imperial court ordered the building and modification of 25 batches of sea-faring boats, totalling 2860. They included four batches of what is known as “treasure ships”, totalling 343, the sea-faring vessels especially for the voyages to the western seas. There still remain seven docks for building ships at the ruins of Nanjing Long Jiang Shipyard and the Treasure Ship dockyard.

Some historical records show that the sea-faring fleet under the command of Zheng He consisted of more than 200 vessels and 61-63 Treasure Ships. As the boats were built in different places, they varied in types, such as “FU” boats, “WU” boats, “GUANG” boats and “SHA” boats. The division of labour among the boats also varied according to different tasks they were assigned. There were large, medium and small sized treasure ships and boats for carrying water, soldiers, passengers, horses and foods. By “treasure ship”, it means exquisitely made boats for shipping official seals, official robes and all kinds of treasures to and from China. It also carried back rare animals, souvenirs and rare raw materials, spices, herbal medicines and crop seeds given to China as gifts from foreign countries. The king-size treasure ship measures 133.2 meters long; mid-size ones measure 111 meters long; and the smallest ones measure 60 meters long for carrying supplies. In Zheng He’s fleet, there were also eight-scull boats, which measures about 24 meters long, with two masts. It used masts in tailwind and when there was no wind, it used sculls.

2.1 Pre-sail preparations

From 1405 to 1433, Zheng He made 7 voyages down to the Western Ocean.
The first voyage sailed in an orderly formation, “forging ahead in full sail day and night, against towering waves, just like going through a thoroughfare” just as a Chinese historian described.

In order to avail the tailwind of the Northeast monsoon, Zheng He defied fatigue and completed preparations in less than one month and set sail from Liujia Port of Taicang. The second voyage, Zheng He visited Champa, Siam (Thailand), Java, Malacca, Nanwuli, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Kayal (on the east shore of the southern end of the Indian Peninsula), Cochin and Calicut.

By the time of the third expedition, 1409 to 1411, Zheng He had established a settled program. The fleet used Malacca as its forward base and there the fleet was divided into squadrons that sailed independently to separate destinations.
The fourth voyage was the largest scaled expedition ever. After left Champa, the fleet split into two. One visited the Malaysian Peninsula. The other, led by Zheng He, continued the journey down the line of Java, Sumatra, Palembang and Malacca.

The mission of Zheng He’s firth voyage was to escort envoys of 19 countries home and to procure all kinds of rare animals and spices from the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa.

Zheng He was order to go on the sixth voyage to escort the envoys of 16 countries include Mogadishu and Brawa in East Africa home. In order to sail directly to the eastern coasts of Africa, Zheng He used stellar diagrams to measure the height of the stars to position the fleet. Menzies (2003) suggested that the fleet had not merely rounded the Cape of Good Hope and traversed the Atlantic, they had been gone to explore Antarctica and the Arctic, North and South America, and had crossed the Pacific to Australia.

On the last voyage, when the fleet, carrying with rare animals and native produce, were sailing toward Calicut, Zheng He died of illness. According to the sea-faring tradition, he was buried at sea.
 
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