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.
Zheng He (1371–1433), formerly romanized as Cheng Ho and also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin, was a Muslim Hui-Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Somalia and the Swahili coast, collectively referred to as the "Voyages of Zheng He" from 1405 to 1433.
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 …
The voyages of Zheng He, 1405-33. From 1405 to 1433, the Chinese Ming dynasty launched seven voyages into the Indian Ocean under the admiralship of the Muslim eunuch Zheng He. Zheng sailed as far as the east coast of Africa, returning home with such exotic gifts as ostriches and giraffes. With 'Treasure Fleets' of more than three hundred ships crewed by tens of thousands of men, his expeditions were over a hundred times larger than those of Columbus and Magellan.
Biography of Zheng He, the famous Muslim eunuch admiral of Ming China's treasure fleet, who lead one of the greatest armadas in human history on seven voyages around the Indian Ocean world. Learn about Zheng He's life and accomplishments here.