Between 1405 and 1433, Ming China sent out enormous armadas of ships into the Indian Ocean, commanded by the eunuch admiral Zheng He. The flagship and other largest treasure junks dwarfed European ships of that century; Christopher Columbus's flagship, the Santa Maria, was between 1/4 and 1/5 the size of Zheng He's. Incredibly, the largest ships in the fleet (called baoshan, or "treasure ships") were roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the displacement of modern American aircraft carriers.
We all know names of western explorers like Marco Polo, Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama, Columbus and others who have put their names in the history of ocean and sea exploration. When I was a little girl in primary and secondary school, my teachers told me about their important contributions and participations in building the …
“We have traversed more than one hundred thousand li * of immense waterspaces and have beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising skyhigh, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions far away . . . while our sails loftily unfurled like clouds day and night continued their course (rapid like that) of a star, traversing those savage waves as if we were treading a public thoroughfare.”—Fifteenth-century inscription at Changle, Fujian, China, attributed to Zheng He. Click for more
Zheng He (1371-1433) was a Chinese Muslim explorer, mariner, diplomat, fleet admiral. He led expeditions to South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and the Middle East during the early part of the fifteenth century.
Zheng He , originally named Ma He, was a Hui court eunuch, mariner, explorer, diplomat, and fleet admiral during China's early Ming dynasty. Zheng commanded expeditionary voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Western Asia, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433. His larger ships stretched 400 feet in length . These carried hundreds of sailors on four tiers of decks.